Gov. McAuliffe announces Virginia’s LGBT Tourism Task Force members
Late last year, Governor McAuliffe announced a task force which would specificailly handle LGBT Tourism here in Virginia, and last week he took the first steps to making this group a reality.
The names of the 21 member task force were released late last Friday as part of a broader Gubernatorial appointment announcement.
“We’re unified by one common goal: to make Virginia a better place to live, work, play, and raise a family,” said Governor McAuliffe at a state-wide tourism event last November when the task force was first announced.
McAuliffe told the crowd that tourism was an important part of Virginia’s growing economy, and part of growing that industry was supporting the Commonwealth’s many different communities.
“We have an opportunity to build upon the progress Virginia made this year in achieving marriage equality and ensure that visitors across the globe know that the Commonwealth is open and welcoming to all,” said the Governor.
McAuliffe said he hoped the task force would highlight Virginia as an LGBT destination and support LGBT travelers locally, nationally and around the world.
According the press release, tourism accounts for about $21.5 billion in Virginia, and employes 213,000 statewide.
Rachel Thomas, a press secretary for McAuliffe, said any estimated budget for an LGBT tourism campaign would depend on future recommendations from the task force and the Governor would evaluate those recommendations at the appropriate time.
The Virginia Tourism Authority was budgeted a total of $19,238,612 for FYE 2014.
Vice President of Community Relations at Richmond Region Tourism, Katherine (Harding) O’Donnell, who helped manage the OutRVA and previous LGBT Richmond tourism campaigns, said McAuliff’s task force has been in communication with her office.
Thomas said the OutRVA campaign could be a model for other cities.
“The task force will be looking at successful campaigns in both the private and public sector,” said Thomas. From the McAuliffe camp, the hope is localities will “develop marketing strategies that will strengthen the Virginia economy and benefit communities across the Commonwealth.”
Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones will lead the LGBT Tourism Task force, and provide ideas and solutions to make Virginia more LGBT friendly.
“Tourism has consistently proven to be a sound investment for Virginia,” said Jones. “It is an instant revenue generator, channeling millions of dollars into the Commonwealth’s coffers and into the revenue stream to local governments.”
Below are the members of the task force:
Governor’s LGBT Tourism Task Force
- Barbara Cage of South Boston, Co-owner & Manager, Bistro1888
- Kevin Clay of Richmond, Principal, Big Spoon Agency
- Phil Crosby of Richmond, Managing Director, Richmond Triangle Players
- The Honorable Adam P. Ebbin of Alexandria, Member, Senate of Virginia
- Patrick Evans-Hylton of Norfolk, Food Journalist, Virginia Wine Lover Magazine
- Tammy Freeman of Prince William, Founder, Say I Do! LGBT Wedding Expo.
- Matt Gaffney of Rehobeth Beach, DE, President & CEO, Capital Region USA, Inc.
- Peter J. Goldin of Mechanicsville, Associate State Director, AARP
- Brad Kutner of Richmond, Editor, GayRVA
- Virginia Lamneck of Richmond, Programs Manager, Equality Virginia
- Jesse LaVancher of Richmond, Central & Northern Virginia Development Manager, Virginia Opera
- Jeffrey Marsh of Chicago, IL, Director of LGBT Marketing, Orbitz Worldwide
- Amy Sarah Marshall of Charlottesville, President, Charlottesville Pride Community Network
- Bruce Newton of Hampton, Group Sales & Visitor Center Manager, Hampton Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Katherine O’Donnell of Richmond, Vice President of Community Relations, Richmond Regional Tourism
- Robert G. Roman of Virginia Beach, Vice President & Co-owner, Decorum Furniture
- Jim Schuyler of Richmond, Executive Director, Virginia Community Action Partnership
- Stephanie Shaw of Richmond, Account Supervisor, The Martin Agency
- Michael Sutphin of Blacksburg, Member, Blacksburg Town Council; Board Member, Equality Virginia
- Michael Thorne-Begland of Richmond, Director, Brand and Trade Channel Integrity; Assistant General Counsel, Altria
- Bob Witeck of Arlington, President, Witeck Communications, Inc.
Editors Note: GayRVA’s editor was selected as a member of this task force, he will stay neutral in his coverage of this project as much as possible.
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