LGBT Tourism and Hospitality Conference was big business

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The 16th Conference on LGBT Tourism & Hospitality ended at the Westin Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA, on December 11.

Nicki E. Grossman, President of the Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, welcomed more than 200 delegates with open arms.

Organized by San Francisco-based Community Marketing & Insights, at the 16th conference Ms. Grossman said: “LGBT tourism business in Fort Lauderdale counted for 1.6 million arrivals into our beach city and billions in revenue over time. It’s big business in Fort Lauderdale and we welcome you with open arms!”

This message was echoed by Huy A. Ross of Florida Keys & Key West. His message: “Come as you are.”

CMI president Thomas Roth as the organizer had interesting statistics to share. He said: China is always the biggest, and so are LGBT visitors from China to the United States.

This was echoed by Charlie Gu of China Luxury Advisors. He said: “China is the largest LGBT tourism market in the world.”

Americas’s first destination was represented by their director of Tourism Anthony Fucillo. Anthony also pointed out the importance of LGBT Tourists visiting New England, Massachusetts and specifically for his town Provincetown.

CVB’s love LGBT Convention and meeting business. According to the representative of MGM Hotels & Resorts most meetings have about 200 participants, some of course a lot more. Leaders from CVB’s including Las Vegas, Dallas, Cincinnati pointed out their special effort and appointed representative to go after LGBT meeting business. Attracting LGBT meeting and incentive business (MICE) also meant big money for attending CVB’s. Cities like Dallas, Texas, Las Vegas, Nevada were able to measure their success in this market with big Dollars.

Even markets in bible belt states are spending a significant budget to attract LGBT travelers- and they are pleased with the result.

Cesar Casas Ferrer representing Mexico said LATIN LGBT travelers to the United States are looking for:

81% Beaches & natural attractions
78.8% Cultural Attractions
70.5% Local Gay Scene
69.8% Cuisine and Restaurants
67/6% Shopping
67%: Entertainment
60.8% Museums

Hotel representatives are aware of how important positive engagement with LGBT travelers is. Many hotels are providing extensive training to staff to welcome LGBT travelers.

Leaders of the LGBT Tourism and Hospitality business pointed out the challenges they have in opening Africa, the Middle East or even some Caribbean countries to this market. The message: LGBT travelers go where they feel welcome. LGBT travelers stay in hotels, select travel agencies and tour operators and do business in cities or countries they feel comfortable in.

The overall message was for main stream marketing campaigns to include LGBT travelers and not treat them like a separate niche.

Thomas Roth in his closing message urged everyone interested in LGBT business to join the International Gay and Lesbian Tourism Organization and thanked attending John Tanzella, President of IGLTA for his support.

eTN was a media partner at the 16th LGBT Tourism & Hospitality Conference and is a supporting member of IGLTA.