They like to travel, and know how to party. Mostly friendly, courteous and well off, gays and lesbians have a high reputation in the German hospitality sector. ”Double income, no kids,” explains Frank-Ulrich John, spokesperson for the Bavarian Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA). ”As a rule they are extremely pleasant guests. They spend money, they want to enjoy themselves and to party, but they aren’t loud and don’t cause trouble,” he adds. The Frankfurt-based German Tourist Office (DZT) also sees gays and lesbians as spenders, and Torsten Schaefer, spokesperson for the German Travel Association (DRV), adds: “This target group is playing an increasingly significant role for German travel companies.” Munich has decided that it wants a bigger share of the ‘pink’ cake, embarking on a ‘gay marketing campaign’ to target Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals (LGBT).
”We estimate that up to 10 per cent of the visitors to our city are members of this group,” says Josef Schmid, the Bavarian capital’s Deputy Mayor. In his view that figure could rise. ”LGBT Tours is a market with growth potential,” a Munich city council publication says. An online survey is aiming to ascertain what gay and lesbian visitors want from the city. The multiple choice questions ask how important city trips are, whom people travel with and what Munich’s image is. The answers range from ’conservative’ and ‘boring’ to ‘welcoming’ and ‘up and coming’. There are also questions looking for a more personal answer, such as: ’What comes to mind when you think about Munich?’
According to Germany’s Association of lesbians and gays (LSVD), attitudes towards German cities are not bad at all. “The major cities of Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne and Munich are seen as tolerant, and they also have developed an infrastructure aimed at the LGBT target group,” says LSVD spokesperson Markus Ulrich in Berlin.
Ulrich sees Munich as being quite on par with other German centres, despite its staunchly Catholic Bavarian hinterland. When it comes to overnight stays, Munich (population 1.4 million) takes second place to trendy Berlin (population 3.4 million).
The colourful gay scene around Gaertnerplatz (in Munich) has a national reputation. The City is aiming to increase its share of cultural tourism, which currently comes mainly from its famed Oktoberfest. The Oberbuergermeister, or Lord Mayor, of Munich has, for 20 years, been the patron of the Christopher Street Day in the City - a parade that celebrates gay pride.
The main party takes place in the halls of the Munich Rathaus (City Hall) - under the rubric ‘Rathaus Clubbing’. Pinktours, a travel agency based in Nuremberg, Bavaria’s second city, specialises in gay and lesbian tourists and has several Munich hotels on its list, including the well known Deutsche Eiche - which is one of the oldest meeting points on the German LGBT scene.
Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury is said to have enjoyed staying there. The fact that Munich has a reputation as an expensive city by German target group is seen as having plenty of disposable income.
As Schaefer says: “Two men without children can usually spend more than a family with children. And they are more flexible, as they don’t have to think of school calendars while setting a travel date."