Little research attention has been given to the gay tourist market, the destinations most commonly visited by gay men, or their holiday motivations and experiences. This paper presents findings on the tourist destinations and holiday motivations of 562 gay men resident in southern England, who took part in a self-completion questionnaire survey to assess sexual activity and sexual risk behaviours in holiday settings. The study was aimed at informing HIV prevention intiatives for gay men with a tourism focus. Samples of men were recruited through contact in bars/clubs in Brighton and via a postal survey conducted in association with a local lesbian/gay magazine. The bar sample was younger than the postal sample but similar in terms of partnership status, income, holiday motivations and travel patterns. The two samples were thus combined for the purpose of analysis. The sample cannot be regarded as representative of gay men in general but does constitute a broad cross-section of gay men, mainly below the age of 40 on the commercial gay scene, supplemented by consumers of a local gay magazine. Gay men in the sample had travelled very widely in the previous five years, with southern European destinations and the United States, in particular, attracting substantial proportions of men. Three dimensions of gay tourist motivation were identified: 'gay social life and sex', 'culture and sights' and 'comfort and relaxation'. Men who had visited southern European gay resorts (Gran Canaria, Ibiza and Mykonos) had significantly higher scores on the first dimension; whereas men who had visited European cities (Amsterdam, Paris and Prague) and had travelled further afield (sub-Saharan Africa and Australia) had higher scores on the second dimension. The implications of the findings for the development of tourism services for gay men, further research on gay tourism, and sexual health promotion aimed at gay men on holiday are discussed.
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