Data from the largest ever survey of LGBT+ issues in the Caribbean is released in new report

  • New research shows LGBT+ discrimination costs up to $4.2 Billion a year in 12 English-Speaking Caribbean Countries – as much as 5.7% of annual GDP.
  • Tourism in the Caribbean is hit by LGBT+ discrimination – an annual loss of 0.93% of its regional GDP, or up to $689 million.
  • Brain drain: LGBT+ skilled workers migrate to more open societies, and stay there – leading to lost human capital, productivity and competitiveness.

Virgin Atlantic has partnered with Open for Business on new research to show the economic cost of LGBT+ discrimination in 12 English-speaking Caribbean countries1. The Economic Case for LGBT+ Inclusion in the Caribbean features data from the largest ever survey of Caribbean LGBT+ people (those currently living in the region plus diaspora), as well as prospective Caribbean tourists, and interviews with business leaders and employees of Caribbean-based companies.

The research shows that the challenges that LGBT+ people in the Caribbean confront on a daily basis are stark: state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia are prevalent, as is significant social stigma. For example,

  • nine of the 12 countries still criminalize same-sex intimacy
  • for trans people, none of the 12 countries allow a change of sex or gender marker on state identifications.

The evidence shows that tourism, the key industry in the Caribbean, is hurt by the region’s perceived anti-LGBT+ environment. Survey data of potential LGBT+ and straight tourists finds the key reason given for NOT visiting a country in the region is because of the negative image they have of how LGBT+ people are treated. Similarly, 60% of LGBT+ and straight people would visit a country (Barbados) but ONLY AFTER its government passes legislation allowing same sex unions. This comes at a significant financial cost to the region. We estimate that $689 million of potential tourism revenue is lost each year due to existing beliefs about the region’s treatment of LGBT+ people.

Businesses are a source of hope in the region: many companies have been taking a strong stance on LGBT+ inclusion. Interviews with regional business leaders point to a growing focus on training, as well as other activities to improve diversity among staff and to be welcoming of all visitors.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer, Virgin Atlantic said: “We are proud to work with Open for Business on this incredibly powerful piece of research. The Caribbean is – understandably - one of the biggest leisure destinations we fly to and one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world. But, sadly it is also one of the least inclusive. Tourism plays a vital role in the economies of many Caribbean countries, which have felt a particularly harsh impact from the global slowdown of travel caused by Covid-19.  To support the region’s economic recovery in the future, it is essential for destinations to attract the widest possible demographic of travellers, including those who identify as LGBTQ+ and allies of the community.  At Virgin Atlantic, we want every single person who travels with us to feel they can be themselves on holiday and we will continue to use the power of our brand to push for change around the world.”

Kathryn Dovey, Executive Director of Open For Business, said: “This data sends a clear message to political and business leaders that LGBT+ discrimination and criminalization is holding back economies in the region. If these countries want to increase tourism and not lose talented workers to other countries, they need to embrace greater diversity and inclusion. Businesses in the region are beginning to demonstrate their commitment to LGBT+ inclusion but much more needs to be done.”

About Virgin Atlantic
About Virgin Atlantic  Virgin Atlantic was founded by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson in 1984, with innovation and amazing customer service at its core. In 2020, Virgin Atlantic was voted Britain’s only Global Five Star Airline by APEX for the fourth year running in the Official Airline Ratings. Headquartered in London, it employs 5,900 people worldwide, flying customers to 27 destinations across four continents. Alongside shareholder and Joint Venture partner Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic operates a leading transatlantic network, with onward connections to over 200 cities around the world. On 3 February 2020, Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic launched an expanded Joint Venture, offering a comprehensive route network, convenient flight schedules, competitive fares and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits, including the ability to earn and redeem miles across all carriers. 
Sustainability remains central to the airline and since September 2019, Virgin Atlantic has welcomed seven brand new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, helping to transform the fleet into one of the youngest, quietest and most fuel efficient in the sky. By 2022, the airline will operate a streamlined fleet of 37 twin engine aircraft following the retirement of its B747-400s and A340-600s, making its simplified fleet 10% more efficient than before the Covid-19 crisis impacted.   
For more information visit, or via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @virginatlantic @virginholidays    For the latest information on the measures we are taking to ensure our customers fly safe and well with Virgin Atlantic, please visit: 

Open for Business
Open For Business is a coalition of leading global companies dedicated to LGBT+ inclusion. Open For Business builds the business and economic case for LGBT+ inclusion in challenging countries. We believe that inclusive, diverse societies are better for business and better for economic growth.
Open For Business has dedicated regional programs in the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and East Africa with a program in South East Asia planned for this year. Each of these programs works with advocates in the local business communities, strengthening local business voices by providing them with evidence and fact-based arguments.
For more information please visit Open For Business.