Tourism groups work on making P.E.I. gay-friendly destination

By Meghan Mulally – The Guardian

The Tourism Industry Association and Tourism P.E.I. say they have been working on the next steps in making the Island a gay-friendly tourism destination.

Ed Salvato and Jeff Guarcino inspired the creation of the P.E.I. Gay Tourism Association after their successful presentation as the keynote speakers at TIAPEI’s annual general meeting last fall.

Judy Pye, owner of the Shipwright Inn in Charlottetown, spoke on behalf of the association and said Salvato and Guarcino really set the stage for P.E.I.

“We’re really building on their momentum as positioning P.E.I. as a gay tourism destination.”

Pye said the Island is missing out on a significant lucrative market.

“The facts are clear. New markets mean new customers. The potential benefits of this would include stealing travellers from other destinations and bringing a new kind of customer to the Island.”

Gay travellers also have a greater economic impact than straight travellers, said Pye.

“One gay or lesbian couple is the equivalent of three straight couples in terms of spending when they travel.”

Having been inspired by what the association heard, it knew it was time for P.E.I. to take centre stage, said Pye.

The P.E.I. Gay Tourism Association began an investigation into official tourism website across the world to see how gay-friendly they were.

“Sadly, the results were intriguing but also disappointing,” said Pye. “With the exception of Germany and the Netherlands, all the websites failed miserably. The only good news was that P.E.I. wasn’t alone out there.”

After seeing those results, the association took some steps in the right direction, in order to position P.E.I. as a gay tourism destination, including a new logo designed by Tony Diodati, the creation of an advertisement to appear on the visitors guide and ongoing work to the official website.

“We’re working on changing attitude from negative and resistant to one of appreciation and mutual respect,” said Pye.

To help with that attitude adjustment, the association is offering diversity training which goes along with membership in the group.

“We’ve gone a long way in a short amount of time but we still have a long way to go,” said Pye.

“We can move forward, we will move forward and we will establish P.E.I. as a gay-friendly destination.”