P.E.I. is a great place for LGBT people to go golfing, for a walk on the beach, spend time with their families, check out live music or host a destination wedding — according to a new series of six videos by the PEI Gay Tourism Association now being released through social media.
'10, 15 years ago there might have been one small, tiny image in a special section of the visitor's guide and that was it.' — Bill Kendrick
"The videos were produced this past summer as part of our ongoing marketing efforts to establish P.E.I. as a place that has everything the majority of gay tourists would be interested in," said Bill Kendrick, the chair of the PEI Gay Tourism Association, a group of about 50 Island tourism operators who came together about five years ago to better market to the LGBT community.
LGBT travellers look for exactly the same things everybody else looks for in a destination, Kendrick said, but with the additional criteria of being safe and welcoming to the LGBT community.
Kendrick said the growth in the gay tourism group as well as increased interest and attendance in gay pride events shows P.E.I. is more inclusive than before.
"Is there empirical proof? No. Are there some people who probably aren't comfortable having gay travelers here? Probably," he said.
"We just don't anymore hear the kinds of things we used to hear 10 years ago in terms of homophobic comments and things like that," he added. "We believe that Islanders are very welcoming and that anyone who comes here will be treated with respect."
And the videos feature local gay couples and families, not actors.
"That's important, that they be seen to be people who live here and not just people we hired to be in the videos," Kendrick said.
While the videos do show same-sex couples kissing, walking hand-in-hand and wrapped together in a rainbow flag, Kendrick believes they are still subtle.
"What's really important in marketing to the gay market is that we be seen to be welcoming without being overt in our advertising," he opined.
The gay tourism group split the cost of the videos — less than $7,000 total — with Tourism PEI, which Kendrick said was "very reasonable."
Gay tourists travel more often, stay at destinations longer, and spend more money — so they're a key market, Kendrick said.
"From a pure business standpoint, it just makes sense to try and position your destination as a place for gay travelers to consider," he said.
"We think that the new videos produced by the PEI Gay Tourism Association do a great job of showing how wonderful of a place P.E.I. is to visit," said Chelsey Rogerson, communications co-ordinator with Pride PEI.
"We hope these videos get shared far and wide and will encourage LGBTQ+ persons from all over to come and visit our beautiful and unique Island," Rogerson said, adding she hopes the videos attract more people to PEI Pride Week July 23 to 29.
The videos can be seen on the PEI Gay Tourism Association's Facebook page, and the group's members have been sharing them too.
The videos were shot last summer at locales across the Island by P.E.I.'s Hummingbird Productions.
Last year Tourism PEI also commissioned a fresh series of images of gay couples enjoying the Island, which are now featured in several spots in the 2017 Visitor's Guide.
"I applaud Tourism PEI for their forward thinking on this," Kendrick said. "10, 15 years ago there might have been one small, tiny image in a special section of the visitor's guide and that was it."
"It's subtle ways of inclusion, so people feel connected," said Brenda Gallant with Tourism PEI of the photos.
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