Seattle hosts first-ever West Coast LGBT Tourism Summit
by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
Seattle will host LGBT Chambers of Commerce, convention and visitor bureaus, travel planners and chamber businesses at the first West Coast LGBT Tourism Summit from January 6-8 at the Seattle Renaissance Hotel.
According to Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) officials, President of Horizon Airlines Glenn Johnson will deliver the keynote speech, and experts from leading market research, public relations, and social media firms such as Nyhus Communications, Community Marketing, Inc., and Pink Banana Media will host sessions on developing a successful inbound tourism initiative.
The 2011 West Coast LGBT Tourism Summit will focus on providing tools for attendees to attract LGBT tourism to their city, according to a GSBA press release.
"By following GSBA's lead of forming partnerships with private and public organizations, local travel organizations can bolster the LGBT tourism industry in their area," said the GSBA in a written statement. "Sessions at the summit include a city by city status report delivered by each participating chamber or region, information on how to develop a local LGBT visitors' guide, utilize technology, and how to market and brand a city or region. Event sponsors include Alaska Airlines, Boeing, USBank, and the Seattle Renaissance Hotel."
GSBA's travel portal, Travel Gay Seattle, allows travelers to book their plane or train tickets and hotel stay, as well as find restaurants, shopping, and unique neighborhoods. By developing similar initiatives on the West Coast, tourism professionals hope to create a regional community for LGBT travelers.
"LGBT Tourism is an essential component of the West Coast economy. Some of the top Gay and Lesbian popular destinations in the world are located in western North America drawing hundreds of thousands of LGBT travelers from around the world every year," said David Paisley of Community Marketing, Inc. "In addition, LGBT events such as Pride are often the biggest public events in their communities, and attract participants from far and wide."
To launch Travel Gay Seattle, GSBA partnered with Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, a company with a reputation for flexibility and outstanding service, as well as an established reputation for LGBT-friendly travel. Additional support came from the City of Seattle's Office of Economic Development and Sound Transit, a regional network of commuter rail, light rail, express buses, and local transit resources. Corporate sponsors include Sheraton Seattle Hotel, Amtrak, and American Airlines.
"LGBTQ Tourism is estimated to be an $84 billion industry, and Seattle is poised to attract a significant portion of that revenue," said Jerome Bader, GSBA director of marketing and external relations. "Seattle has the second largest percentage of openly LGBTQ citizens in the United States, scenic beauty that cannot be matched, restaurants, a wine industry that is unparalleled, and metropolitan communities that are open and welcoming to all. Currently Seattle is ranked number nine in the top 20 LGBTQ tourism destinations. I want to be in the top five!"
The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) has been Seattle's LGBT allied business and professional chamber of commerce since 1981. GSBA is the largest business chamber of its kind in the United States. For more information about GSBA, visit www.thegsba.org.
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