Destinations

Florida Sees Benefit of Same-Sex Tourism, Despite Marriage Ban

@SamShankman

Jul 21, 2014 12:20 pm

Skift Take

Growing acceptance of the LGBT community and changing marriage laws are fueling growth for the tourism industry, but marketing is just one part of creating an enjoyable and welcoming experience for all visitors.

— Samantha Shankman

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Philip  / Flickr

Rainbow flags line the beach in Miami, Florida. Philip / Flickr


For a moment last week, it appeared that Florida would welcome its first same-sex marriages.

Florida Keys Circuit Court Judge Luis Garcia overturned a ban on same-sex marriages for Monroe county only to have the Florida Attorney General appeal the decision shortly after.

For now, no same-sex marriage licenses will be issued in the Florida Keys, or elsewhere in the state, and the timetable for future litigation is unknown. But that hasn’t stopped Florida destinations from marketing themselves to the growing LGBT community.

Tourism spend from the LGBT community is expected to top $200 billion for the first time in 2014, according to data released by Out Now Business Class. The United States accounts for $56.5 billion of the spending and changes in marriage laws are driving significant growth.

The legalization of same-sex marriage has a positive impact on tourism drawing happy couples to celebrate their nuptials — destinations including Rhode Island, California, New Zealand, and New Mexico have all seen an increase in visitors following their respective rulings.

Other destinations like New Orleans and Florida are branding themselves LGBT-friendly destinations despite the ban on same-sex marriages.

The Florida Keys and Key West, the particular region in question last week, has a robust LGBT marketing program that was in place for several years before last week’s ruling.

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, the host of Florida’s largest pride event, also has an extensive LGBT-marketing program. The tourism board is already planning to introduce niche marketing initiatives aimed at the gay wedding market for when the ban is officially overturned.

“We’ve already had preliminary discussions with our ad agency as to what they might look like—we have no creative executions yet, but they will definitely be a relevant, niche-specific iteration of our current campaign,” explains David Downing, deputy director of St. Pete/Clearwater Area CVB.

Miami’s tourism organization Miami & Beaches also has LGBT marketing initiatives in place, including new e-guide released this year.

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