Visit Gay Osaka - Japan’s First DMO-Led LGBTQ Initiative

Jonathon presented Visit Gay Osaka, Japan’s first DMO-led LGBTQ marketing and tourism initiative.

Osaka is the 2nd largest metropolitan city in Japan. It is just 3 hours away from Tokyo and has been recognised as the 2nd most liveable city in the country. Osaka has a rich culture and is known for history, arts, water views & cruises and friendly locals. It is also named the nation’s kitchen for its food.

Jonathon, MICE Promotions Specialist at Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau, presented Visit Gay Osaka, Japan’s first DMO-led LGBTQ marketing and tourism initiative.

Osaka is the 2nd largest metropolitan city in Japan. It is just 3 hours away from Tokyo and has been recognised as the 2nd most liveable city in the country. Osaka has a rich culture and is known for history, arts, water views & cruises and friendly locals. It is also named the nation’s kitchen for its food.

Jonathon explained that the Osaka Convention & bureau works on different aspects of tourism that Osaka offers, including LGBTQ initiatives. In Japan, same-sex marriage is not legal. However, municipalities offer partnership certificates that allow the community civil rights. Today, over 2000 couples in Japan have the certificate, of which nearly 500 are in Osaka. So in that sense, Japan supports LGBTQ rights and protection.

Jonathon explained multiple aspects including marketing, community demographics and travellers’ statistics. LGBTQ marketing means ensuring products and destinations are safe for and appropriate for the LGBTQ community and for business. It is not limited to pride month and should be supported all year round. He added that, as a destination, being a hotspot is not as important as being LGBTQ supportive.

Thinking about the LGBTQ community, Jonathon mentioned that in the US, for example, 77% have passports, 50% are homeowners, and 90% are vaccinated. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge the demographic attributes of the community and travellers.

Osaka, as a destination, offers many gay bars and other LGBTQ spots. It is friendly and has welcoming locals. There is no discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Osaka has run many marketing initiatives. In 2018, they became a member of IGLTA (International LGBTQ+ Travel Association). The following year they launched the first LGBTQ family trips. In 2021, they hosted the LGBTQ tourism conference in Osaka with other stakeholders such as Japan Airlines and launched Visit Gay Osaka's Facebook page.

They offer a range of LGBTQ experiences that range from drag queen packages and tours to Udon noodle making make up experiences. The infrastructure for LGBTQ tourism is developing, especially through partnerships with Nintendo World, Nakonashimo Museum of Art, IGLTA global and World Expo 2025 Osaka.

As a DMO, they run sensitivity training to inform about LGBTQ, marketing methods, and travellers need. They also hire individuals for mystery shopping surveying to experience accommodations that have received the sensitivity training. Approved accommodations get listed on Visit Gay Osaka.

Key Takeaways

1. Being LGBTQ supportive means offering products and experiences that accommodate the community as a destination.

2. Efficient training programmes can create awareness and contribute towards enhancing LGBTQ travel and tourism.

3. Showing support should expand beyond pride month.

4. Collaboration between multiple stakeholders encourage supporting the community in different sectors and becoming a supportive destination as a whole.

Published on:
December 2021
About the contributor

Jonathan Lucas

Jonathan is from Virginia, USA. Although he has a science background, after a memorable study abroad in Osaka during his university years Jonathan was passionate about contributing back to the same region.