September 27, 2016 at 2:44 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Virginia launches LGBT tourism campaign

Hampton Roads Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

A woman takes pictures of boats in Hampton Roads Pride’s annual Pride Boat Parade on the Elizabeth River in Norfolk, Va., on June 18, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Virginia has launched a campaign that seeks to draw LGBT tourists to the state.

The Virginia Tourism Corporation, which is behind the Virginia is for Lovers campaign, officially launched the initiative on Sept. 23.

The campaign includes a new landing page on the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s homepage that includes information about museums, wineries, parks and other LGBT-friendly attractions in the state. It also contains hotel and event listings and Virginia is for Lovers PRIDE merchandise that is for sale.

“From small towns to urban centers, these listings will help you discover inclusive and welcoming destinations for your next vacation, business meeting, wedding, anniversary or any trip or getaway that you want to do with your friends,” says Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a video on the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s website.

“A vacation in Virginia is all about doing the things you love to do with the ones that you love,” said Virginia Tourism Corporation CEO Rita McClenny in a press release that announced the campaign. “We are thrilled to offer this new resources for the LGBT community, their friends and their families to help them plan the perfect vacation in Virginia.”

The campaign is among the recommendations the governor’s LGBT Tourism Task Force made after he announced its creation in late 2014. Richmond Region Tourism launched OutRVA, which promotes LGBT tourism in the area, a few months earlier.

A report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law indicates the economy of neighboring North Carolina could lose nearly $5 billion a year because of House Bill 2 that bans transgender people from using public restrooms consistent with their gender identity and prohibits local municipalities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination measures.

The NCAA announced earlier this month that it would no longer hold this season’s championship games in North Carolina because of the law. Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam urged the NCAA to consider holding them in Virginia.

“This administration is working every day to make sure that Virginia is open and inclusive,” said Northam in a statement. “Our ‘open for business’ approach, high quality of life, and world-class colleges and universities make Virginia an ideal destination for NCAA championships.”

Gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who is a member of the governor’s LGBT Tourism Task Force, welcomed the new tourism campaign.

“We’ve made it clear that Virginia hospitality extends to all visitors,” Ebbin told the Washington Blade on Tuesday, specifically applauding McAuliffe and the LGBT Tourism Task Force. “We want LGBT people to enjoy all the great visitor experiences that our great state has to offer.”

The Virginia Tourism Corporation notes tourists spent $23 billion in the state in 2015. The tourism industry also supports more than 200,000 jobs in Virginia and generates $1.6 billion in state and local taxes a year.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

1 Comment
  • If you really want to be taken seriously as a welcoming state, then pass statewide legislation that prohibits discrimination against GLBT living and working in the state. NO FADA and NO RFRA!

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