Virginia’s LGBT Tourism Task Force presents findings to Gov. McAuliffe
Members from Virginia’s first LGBT Tourism Taskforce met at the Patrick Henry Building earlier this month and shared their year-long findings with Governor McAuliffe.
Made up of business leaders, members of the arts and activist communities, as well as small business owners and marketing professionals (and GayRVA’s Editor Brad Kutner), the LGBT Tourism Taskforce was appointed by Governor McAuliffe about a year ago in the hopes of growing the Commonwealth as a tourism destination for LGBTQ people and families.
Several meetings were held throughout 2015, and the group reconvened Friday, 1/15, to share their ideas and hopes for the future campaign.
Tourism accounts for about $21.5 billion in Virginia, and employs 213,000 statewide, and part of the task force’s goal is to develop more options for LGBTQ tourism and build that income.
The meeting covered a range of topics from research and education, to strategies and marketing plans.
Check out photos from the meeting below:
Priorities included things like identifying best practices and case studies from other state-run LGBT campaigns, connecting to community leaders in other cities to help spread VA’s welcoming message, and developing an industry resource guide to share with other tourism groups.
“Governor McAuliffe’s decision to appoint an LGBT Tourism Task Force reflects his continuous call for an opening and welcoming Commonwealth, as well as his focus on business for Virginia,” said Senator Adam P. Ebbin, Virginia’s only openly gay Senator, and another member of the LGBT Taskforce.
The senator said LGBT travelers spend an estimated $57 billion in the US annually, and it was important that the national and international community knows about Virginia’s “superb travel experiences.”
“In today’s competitive marketplace, we need to market to all travelers–including the important LGBT market,” he said.
Governor McAuliffe was candid and cordial with the task force members and seemed genuinely committed to turning Virginia into a destination for LGBTQs. While the meeting wouldn’t allow recording, he said he was unafraid to pursue this venture, and was glad to see people work together on such a new project for the Commonwealth.
“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 meeting. “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.”
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