Date of Award

5-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Advisor

Schmalz, Dorothy L

Committee Member

Norman , William C

Committee Member

Tucker , Teresa W

Committee Member

Smith , Christa A

Abstract

Local festivals and events are important tourist resources for a destination. They enhance economic benefits of the host area, improve the sense of community, and provide unique experiences to residents and tourists (Getz, 1997). Economically, tourism itself is recognized as the largest export earner in the world and an important provider of monetary exchange and employment, and over the last decades has sustained growth and increased diversification of product offerings (WTO, 2004). With this broadening of the market, various niches have emerged within the tourism sector including gay tourism. Gay consumers are deemed to be of special interest for the tourism industry because research shows that this population has; (1) Higher levels of education, (2) higher average income, (3) fewer children and, (4) higher discretionary income (Guaracino, 2011). The travel and event attendance motivations of these individuals must be understood by practitioners in order to properly provide for them (Fodness, 1994). General tourist motivations have been studied in depth, however there is a lack of information relating to the motivations within the gay community to travel and attend events. Research has shown that tourism as consumption of space is often viewed from a heterosexual viewpoint and that most public and semi-public space is predominantly heteronormative, which is defined as a worldview that promotes straight, or heterosexuality, as the normal or preferred sexual orientation (Bell & Valentine, 1995; Pritchard et al, 2000). Therefore general travel motivation research may not apply to homosexuals or 'gay events' (Pritchard et al, 2000). This study found that sexuality does play a part in motivations to attend events, and therefore should be accounted for by event managers. This study also provides insight for tourism and event providers on how to reach the lesbian and gay market.

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