The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau in Broward County is reaffirming its commitment to the human rights of gay couples, gay families and transgender residents and travelers following recent laws that discriminate against the LGBTQ community in some U.S. states.
“We fought and won this debate more than 20 years ago when we expanded the Broward County Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation as a protected classification in 1995,” said Nicki E. Grossman, president and CEO, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“We restated that stance when we unanimously amended the Act in 2008 to include gender identity or expression. LGBTQ residents and visitors can rest assured we again reaffirm that commitment in light of moves to limit their human rights in some U.S. states. And it’s not just about human rights; we know firsthand it’s a matter of good business sense as LGBTQ travelers bring billions in spending and commercial opportunities to a destination. It is also reflective of the open and welcoming environment we have created for all visitors and have been rewarded for in loyalty and respect.”
Broward County enforces a local ordinance to protect the LGBTQ community, including the unlawful discrimination in public accommodations that includes denying, withholding or refusing an individual or group the full and equal enjoyment of goods, services or facilities that may occur in a place of public accommodations or establishment.
Greater Fort Lauderdale has the highest concentration of same-sex couple households in the country and is one of the top LGBTQ vacation destinations in the world, thanks to being one of the first destinations to directly market to the gay and lesbian community almost 20 years ago.
“We have been rolling out the Rainbow Carpet since 1996, when we allocated a $35,000 gay marketing budget to create our first dedicated LGBT ad campaign and became the first CVB with an LGBT-centric vacation planner, and the first LGBT website on a CVB homepage,” said Richard Gray, managing director, LGBTQ market.
Today, the CVB’s LGBTQ marketing budget tops $1 million with integration into mainstream marketing, attracting about 1.5 million LGBTQ travelers who spend about $1.5 billion a year thanks to pioneering initiatives like the first-ever Transgender and Gay Family Travel Study in partnership with Community Marketing & Insights.
The CVB also became one of the first to publicly speak out against the prohibition on same-sex marriage in the state of Florida, and held a mass wedding, hosted by *NSYNC star Lance Bass, for all couples to celebrate the repeal in 2015.
In addition to year-over-year growth in visitor numbers and related spending in Greater Fort Lauderdale, highlights of LGBTQ tourism include:
- A goal of increasing the destination’s share of LGBTQ leisure and group business to be ranked among the top five U.S. LGBTQ destinations by 2017, as reported by Community Marketing, Inc.
- Southern Comfort Transgender Conference, the largest Trans conference in North America, deciding to bring its 2015, 2016 and 2017 conference to Greater Fort Lauderdale, after more than 24 years in Atlanta.
- Greater Fort Lauderdale named “Destination of the Year” by the 2015 ManAboutWorldEditors’ Choice Awards, recognizing the very best in gay travel.
- Wilton Manors named 2013 “Gayborhood of the Year” by ManAboutWorldEditors’ Choice Awards.
- Home to the World AIDS Museum and Educational Center, the first of its kind.
- Home to the Stonewall National Museum & Archives, one of the only permanent spaces in the U.S. devoted to exhibitions relating to LGBTQ history and culture.
- Recognized as Florida’s largest and most popular diverse gay capital with the largest concentration of resident lesbian and gay community, (followed by Seattle and San Francisco) and the most gay-owned and operated businesses in the state.
- The first tourism marketing organization to integrate LGBTQ images and messaging into its mainstream marketing initiatives.
- The first CVB in the country to support a repeal of its state’s gay marriage ban.
- Selected as the home of The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, the leading member-based global organization dedicated toLGBT tourism.
“It is evident the practices Broward County put in place more than two decades ago have made Greater Fort Lauderdale successful and a leader in LGBT rights. We have and will continue to set a standard for other destinations to follow,” said Gray.