by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
On July 18, the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) unveiled its new Seattle LGBT Visitors Center on Capitol Hill to a select group of tourism industry professionals.
According to GSBA officials, the LGBT visitor center is Seattle's first, and one of just two such visitor centers in the U.S. The center will open to the public on Friday, July 19.
'The Visitors Center is hosted by 1st Security Bank [of Washington] and is a project of the GSBA,' said GSBA Deputy Director Rachael Brister in a July 15 media release. 'The 200-square-foot Visitors Center features a street-side space located at the bank's 614 Broadway East branch. The center is staffed part-time and offers a wide array of Seattle visitor information and services including brochures, visitor guides, maps, and a 60-inch TV screen with scrolling information and access to www.travelgayseattle.com, the GSBA web travel portal.'
Travel and tourism industry presenting partners include 1st Security Bank and Visit Seattle, which has maintained an LGBT tourism marketing partnership with the GSBA since 2009. Travel and tourism sponsors include the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, Sound Transit, Amtrak, and OutCity magazine.
WARM WELCOME ASSURED
'Seattle's vibrant, progressive, and welcoming community is the perfect home for this unique resource for the LGBT traveler,' said Louise Chernin, the GSBA's executive director. 'Open to all, the Seattle LGBT Visitors Center will be a great destination for all travelers to find hotels, exciting nightlife spots, fabulous food, entertainment, shopping, and attractions - and the LGBT traveler will know that each business found inside the Visitors Center is friendly, supportive, and gladly welcomes the LGBT traveler.'
'As a local bank, we are deeply committed to the communities we serve. What better way to support Capitol Hill's vibrant neighborhood than to host GSBA's Seattle LGBT Visitors Center. We thank Louise and the GSBA for this amazing opportunity,' said Joe Adams, CEO of 1st Security Bank.
According to GSBA officials, LGBT travelers comprise approximately 10 percent of the consumer travel market share in the U.S. and, on average, have higher disposable incomes than members of other niche travel markets. The estimated annual economic impact of LGBT travelers is $70 billion, according to Community Marketing, Inc.
The GSBA and its travel industry partners continue to work together to position Seattle as a top destination for these travelers, and to help create new sources of revenue for Seattle and the region, said Brister.
'The LGBT community already plays a vital role in the economy and vitality of the Puget Sound region,' said Chernin, 'and now with marriage equality, we now have an even greater opportunity to harness the economic impact of the LGBT traveler.'
In the first four months that legal same-sex marriages were performed in Washington, 14% were for out-of-state couples.
'We're proud to support the GSBA with this new venture during an important time for LGBT civil liberties,' said Tom Norwalk, president and CEO of Visit Seattle. 'Our city has always been known as a progressive, welcoming destination that promotes LGBT civil rights and equality for all, and now Washington state has joined in extending marriage equality. Extending a warm welcome is the right thing to do, but we also hope it encourages more LGBT tourism dollars, which, in turn, strengthen our local and state economies.'
ABOUT THE GSBA
The Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) is the largest LGBT and allied chamber of commerce in the United States and was honored as 2008 Gay and Lesbian Chamber of the Year by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). GSBA supports the next generation of leaders through its Scholarship Program and has awarded nearly $1 million to Washington state undergraduates. GSBA's mission is to combine business development, social action, advocacy, and leadership to expand economic opportunities for the LGBT community and those who support equality for all.
For more information about GSBA and/or the Visitors Center, go to www.thegsba.org or www.travelgayseattle.com.
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