'It's all about acceptance': Training helps Yukon tourism operators welcome LGBT market

A new tourism website directed at LGBT travellers provides all of the usual information about a destination's activities and events, and also offers a perspective not often provided by other sources.

LGBT travellers spend more money than other travellers and travel more often, says Travel Gay Canada

Tourism PEI comissioned photos of gay couples as part of a tourism campaign in that province. (Stephen Harris)

A tourism website directed at LGBT travellers provides all of the usual information about a destination's activities and events. It also offers a perspective not often provided by other sources. 

"Whitehorse has for a long time been welcoming LGBT visitors with many businesses having a safe and respectful environment," reads the Travel Gay Canada website. 

The tourism organization wants to build on Whitehorse's already positive reputation for LGBT travellers. Travel Gay Canada is hosting a workshop in Whitehorse on Tuesday, aimed at increasing Yukon's popularity as a destination for that demographic.

"It is a niche market but it's such a powerful market and there's a lot of disposable income within that market," says Colin Sines, executive director of Travel Gay Canada.

"They spend twice as much as the average consumer. They travel twice as frequently. Their needs are very different," he explains.

But they also have things in common with other travellers. 

"They're not looking to be separated or segregated. It's all about acceptance."  

Sines says LGBT travellers should be included in a business plan the same way as families or other target markets are considered. 

Tuesday's workshop will look at how itineraries can be marketed to the LGBT traveller, and how those travellers can be made to feel safe and respected.

Oh, you're going to share a bed? 

Sines says diversity training can help avoid awkward situations, like when two male travellers show up at a hotel and the front desk thinks there's been a mistake because they're booked into a room with just one bed. 

Stephen Dunbar-Edge, former owner of Yukon Pride Adventure Tours, says diversity training for tourism operators is a good idea. (CBC)

That's happened to Stephen Dunbar-Edge before. The former owner of Yukon Pride Adventure Tours says a simple change of language would have made the situation less awkward.

"It really boils down to, if you are in the accommodation or welcoming travel trade industry, are you really welcoming and are you really open?"

Dunbar-Edge says in his experience, many Yukon tourism operators are welcoming to all travellers. But he says diversity training sends a positive message to staff.

"If they're [staff] learning that the property itself is a welcoming property to everybody … I think it is a good thing."

This is the first time Travel Gay Canada is holding a workshop in the Yukon. The territory is one of 18 regions Travel Gay Canada is focusing on as a destination for LGBT travellers.