“The government of Yucatan should pay more attention to LGBTTTIQ tourism, since it is a market not properly exploited in the state. The region has everything to consolidate this segment and offer gay tourists more and better services and infrastructure, as it is being done in other parts of the country”, said Ricardo Contreras Godoy, founder of the company Merida Gay Tours.
This project was born over a year and a half ago, after Ricardo tried unsuccessfully to open a franchise in the city, he ended up working as an Uber driver, and then he came up with the idea of creating this business idea.
Up to date, the company has served about 130 clients, mostly foreigners from the United States, Canada and Europe, most of them male professionals between 30 and 60 years old.
He explained that the traveler contacts the company through his website and he takes them to the places they choose or that he suggests. He considers himself an “experience facilitator”.
According to Ricardo Contreras, the gay tourist spends on average between 200 and 300 US dollars per day, although this figure can be higher depending on the services or places that the traveler wishes to visit or experience.
Although Yucatan is one of the most conservative states in the country – where Congress recently rejected equal marriage – most foreigners have the perception that the state is gayfriendly. Besides, the public safety levels and the fact that gay people is not attacked, as it happens in other parts of Mexico, are some of the reasons why LGBT tourists feel safe and comfortable.
“Yucatecans might not be the most open minded, but they are not aggressive,” Ricardo said.
However, he considered that a lot of work needs to be done by the state government, and the Ministry of Tourism to further promote this type of tourism in the state, as occurs in Puerto Vallarta, Playa del Carmen, the preferred destinations of the LGBTTTIQ community in Mexico.
“There is not a broad or open gay life here, it’s more dispersed,” Ricardo added.
According to the owner and founder of Merida Gay Tours, authorities must generate infrastructure for the gay community, services and activities specifucally focused on this market segment that has a high purchasing power.
“By not passing the equal marriage law, the state of Yucatan is loosing the opportunity to increase its market share in thematic gay weddings, as thousands of people are currently looking for places with beautiful scenery, nature to get married, and because they can not do it in their own state or country”, Ricardo Contreras stated.
On the other hand, he declared that the great mobilization that took place over the weekend where dozens of people marched to demand gay rights, is a very positive thing, because it generates an impact abroad, since news transcend borders.