Specialist online training on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender tourism marketing for travel agents and tour operators has been unveiled.

Visit Helsinki, and Tourismus & Congress Frankfurt have become the first destination tourism offices to develop targeted training aimed at increasing LGBT visitors to their cities.

The deals were struck at World Travel Market in November with Visit Helsinki one of 12 companies that exhibited in the first LGBT Pavilion at the exhibition.

The training modules will be built and managed by LGBT marketing firm Out Now Global, which organised the inaugural LGBT Pavilion at WTM.

It is the first time a specific LGBT-focused training content has been available to mainstream agents.

The training modules will be launched early this year in partnership with WTM exhibitor online training provider OTT.

The destination specific e-learning courses will be free for agents who have completed an initial course, and will be marketed and available to a global network of over 60,000 travel trade professionals through OTTʼs database.

The new training content is informed by Out Nowʼs LGBT2020 research which reveals that a significant number of LGBT tourists are now booking travel through mainstream agencies and operators.

The LGBT2020 study revealed that the global LGBT tourism spend in 2013 will top $181 billion.

As well as featuring LGBT nightlife and festivals, the training modules will highlight other key activities and areas of interest to LGBT travellers. The importance of cuisine, local history, museums, art galleries, walking, beaches, mainstream nightlife, as well as art and events have all been analysed for each partner destination based on ranking the relevant importance of each for respondents to the LGBT2020 global research study when they travel.

Out Now chief executive and founder Ian Johnson said: “This new initiative has the potential to expand the market reach for LGBT sales substantially.

“Travel agents and tour operators now account for more than 30% of all LGBT sales in most markets globally, so by providing specialist training and relevant LGBT product information we are able to give our partner destinations a much enhanced competitive edge.”