Helsinki learns that gay travellers do not all fit in the same mould
Gay Friendly Helsinki wishes to welcome both cruise visitors and Pride event guests
Tobias Holfelt from Sweden is visiting Helsinki for the third time in his life.
What type of places would he recommend to other travellers?
“I have studied history, so the fortress island of Suomenlinna [originally "Sveaborg", and built by the Swedes in the 18th century] is an interesting site. I recall having visited an attractive market hall as well. And because I am interested in design, I do like Helsinki’s design quarter”, Holfelt lists.
Somewhat traditional, tried & tested tourist attractions - and essentially that is what it is all about.
Holfelt represents the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), which includes 1,600 tourism trade operators around the globe.
His message is that travellers representing sexual minority groups cannot be forced into the same mould.
One must not assume that as tourists they automatically differ from the heterosexual crowd.
“Some like to attend the Pride events, but many others would rather spend a week in the Canary Islands. What is important for all of them is that they feel welcome wherever they choose to go”, Holfelt explains.
Holfelt was a speaker at the Gay Friendly Helsinki seminar organised this week by the Helsinki City Tourist and Convention Bureau.
According to statistics, gay tourists travel more frequently and spend more money than their straight counterparts.
Marketing secretary Hanna Povari explains that efforts are being made in Helsinki to reel in guests representing sexual minorities, especially from Sweden, Great Britain, Germany, the United States, and Russia.
“In Russia and the Baltic States the attitudes are not yet as open as in the west. For many it may be easier to come here and be openly who they are”, Povari says.
Next summer four cruises aimed at a sexual minority clientele are expected to pay a visit to Helsinki. Helsinki’s Pride Week, which starts on June 28th, is also expected to attract some foreign visitors.
The festival’s most visible event, the Pride Parade, will take place on Saturday, July 3rd.
Helsinki started listing its LGBT-friendly tourism services in March.
The so-called Gay Friendly Helsinki network includes currently around 30 businesses, most of which are tour organisers, hotels, and restaurants.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Week-long Helsinki Pride festival celebrates gay culture (22.6.2009)
Special guides for gay tourists who visit Helsinki (5.4.2007)
Gay culture flourishes in Helsinki (10.8.2004)
Helsinki Gay and Eurovision Song Contest Guide
Helsinki – a GLBT-friendly city