Toronto targets high-value U.S. gay travellers

    TORONTO, June 15 /CNW/ - Tourism Toronto announced today a series of
initiatives aimed at strengthening Toronto's market position as one of the top
international destinations for high-value U.S. gay travellers.
    "The gay travel market is one of the fastest-growing segments and is a
$55 billion industry. This represents a major opportunity for Toronto," said
David Whitaker, President and CEO of Tourism Toronto. "Toronto offers a great
deal to gay visitors, who tend to travel more often, stay longer and spend
more in a destination."
    Although Tourism Toronto has marketed to gay travellers in the past, this
year it increased its investment by 50 per cent to $300,000 to reach this
important segment, focusing on four major U.S. cities - New York, Chicago, San
Francisco and Los Angeles.
    Tourism Toronto also announced today that Toronto has won the bid to host
the 2009 Annual Convention of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel
Association (IGLTA). "In choosing Toronto, our members sensed a thriving and
well-organized community that is making a serious, long-term commitment to the
gay travel market," said John Tanzella, Executive Director of the IGLTA.
    Tourism Toronto has established a new Gay Marketing Advisory Group that
includes more than a dozen local community leaders. The industry association
is also helping hotels in the city and region gain accreditation as
'gay-friendly' establishments through Travel Gay Canada.
    "This is the kind of commitment to this market we've been waiting for,"
said Bruce McDonald, co-founder of the CGLCC and member of the Gay Marketing
Advisory Group. "The investment in the gay market will have a positive impact
on businesses throughout the city."
    Toronto City Councillor Kyle Rae, who chairs the Advisory Group, noted
that, "this is a great market for Toronto, one that represents millions of
dollars in additional tourism for the city."
    Tourism Toronto's marketing campaign in the U.S. will include ads in gay
restaurants, bars and local publications, as well as event sponsorships and
promotional activities. "Our campaign goes beyond ads so that we are truly
engaging our customers directly," said Whitaker. "In all four cities we are
working with prominent gay organizations to give Toronto a presence at
high-profile events such as the Gay Idol competition in Chicago."
    Earlier this year, Tourism Toronto sponsored the Queer Lounge at the
Sundance Film Festival in Utah, and partnered with a San Francisco gay morning
radio show during "Freedom to Marry Week." Toronto was featured on the show
throughout the week, culminating in two couples winning a trip to get married
in here. Councillor Rae was on the air in San Francisco to speak to Toronto's
welcoming attitude.
    A critical strategic element of the new campaign is that it markets the
entire city and region to gay travellers, rather than simply promoting the gay
village. "Our research shows that gay travellers are discerning, mainstream
travellers who also enjoy the village as the heart of the community," said Mr.

    Recent research shows that U.S. gay travellers:
    -   Travel more frequently - 98% have taken at least one overnight trip
        in the last twelve months, compared with 72% for heterosexual

    -   Stay longer - They stayed a median of 15 nights in hotels last year,
        compared with an average of about three nights for all U.S.

    -   Spend more - Gay men spend $800 on average per trip, compared to $540
        by non-gay travellers.

    -   Are more likely to hold passports - 71% of travellers who identify
        themselves as gay hold a valid passport, nearly three times the
        overall U.S. average of 24%. With the rules requiring a passport to
        re-enter the United States, gays and lesbians are more readily able
        to travel to Toronto.

    -   Travel throughout the year - With an average household income of
        $85,000 and a median age of 44, this market tends to travel
        throughout the year, not just during peak seasons.

    Tourism Toronto, Toronto's Convention and Visitors Association, is an
industry association of more than 1,100 members established to strategically
sell and market the Greater Toronto Region as a remarkable destination for
tourists, convention delegates and business travellers around the globe.

For further information:

For further information: Andrew Weir, Vice President, Communications,
Tourism Toronto, (416) 987-1741,; Dena Fehir, PR Post, (416)
777-0368, Cell (416)788-8620,

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