Virginia’s LGBT tourism campaign gets under way with “LGBT Friendly” listings
It’s been almost two years since Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the creation of Virginia’s first state-run LGBT Tourism Task Force and today the first bits of the groups labor have been released.
A new resource guide and visible markers of LGBTQ support are now available for Virginia businesses through the state’s tourism website, Virginia.org. The site boasts about 13 million views a year as people from around the country and globe plan trips to the Commonwealth in search of destinations, lodging and more.
The tools released over the last few weeks allow business listings to show off their support for the LGBTQ community with a marker (seen below) along side other qualities like gyms, pools and laundry service.
You can also narrow your search to show only “LGBT Friendly” hotels in your results.
News of the new tourism options were sent out to members of the state’s tourism industry via e-mail, and among those who were interested in marking their businesses as “LGBT friendly” as quickly as possible was Richmond’s own Linden Row Inn.
Vishal Savani, owner of the over 160-year-old hotel, said his business has long been a destination for LGBTQ travelers do to its rich history and connection to the arts. It also doesn’t hurt that the former owner, Mary Wingfield Scott, identified as a lesbian.
“She saved the hotel from destruction, and she was part of the LGBT community. She found it extremely important to not just save Linden Row, but also support the historic architecture and the arts in Richmond,” Savani said. “We’ve always felt like LGBT travelers are a market that really likes our product.”
Sure enough, when Savani got the email informing him about the “LGBT friendly” option for their business, he immediately updated their listing.
“This is something that’s really important to us and our identity as a hotel,” he said.
Tourism in Virginia represents about $22 billion in visitor spending, supports 216,300 jobs, and added $1.5 billion in state and local taxes in 2014 according to the newly released LGBT Tourism resource guide.
“A growth market which can increase visitor spending with your business and in your community are LGBT travelers. This includes travel for leisure, business, sports, military, educational, religious and fraternal group travel.”
The guide offers information ranging from LGBTQ specific events like Prides around the state and campaign models based on Richmond’s OutRVA for localities to follow.
“Virginia has a strong network of organizations and businesses focused on inclusive and LGBT-friendly travel,” reads the guide. “Their combined efforts create an ideal network to explore when developing LGBT-friendly and inclusive travel marketing.”
The LGBT Tourism Task Force was created with the mission of increasing visitor spending by LGBT travelers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was assembly by Virginia Tourism Corporation and featured community members, activists, marketers and even GayRVA’s editor (me).
The LGBT Tourism Task Force meeting held in Feb. 2016
“Over the past year, the LGBT Tourism Task Force has worked diligently to provide thoughtful, important recommendations on how to make Virginia a welcoming destination to all travelers,” said Governor McAuliffe in a statement sent to GayRVA after the group presented its findings earlier this year. “This unprecedented collaboration of some of the brightest minds from the Commonwealth and beyond provided an important first step towards making Virginia a warm, inviting, and safe place for all travelers. I am very proud of the Task Force’s accomplishments to date, and look forward to the group’s continued collaboration. Today, we can say, truly and emphatically, that Virginia is for Lovers—and welcoming to all.”
If you or someone you know is in the tourism industry and wishes to find out more, head on over the Virginia Tourism website and find out more.
Mayor Stoney urges support for RVA as city gets nominated as top destination for British LGBT travelers
“Richmond, VA, is truly for all lovers… now is the time to let the world know how welcoming Richmond is.”February 22, 2017
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