P.E.I. should market itself to gay travellers: consultants

Ryan Ross
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Jeff Guaracino and Ed Salvato, here with a copy of Guaracino's book Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing, say P.E.I.'s tourism industry could benefit from marketing to gay and lesbian travelers. The two delivered the keynote presentation at the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I.'s annual general meeting Friday.

P.E.I.'s tourism industry is missing out on a lot of money by not targeting gay and lesbian tourists.

That was the message by the keynote speakers at the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. annual general meeting Friday at the Rodd Royalty Inn.

Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation vice-president of communications Jeff Guaracino and gay travel consultant Ed Salvato talked about their experiences marketing gay travel and the benefits it could have for P.E.I.

Guaracino said P.E.I.’s tourism industry needs to do research and develop a long-term marketing plan to help attract gay and lesbian tourists to the province.

“You can’t just say if you build it they will come,” he said.

Throughout the presentation Guaracino drew on his experiences developing gay and lesbian tourism campaigns in Philadelphia, including the Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay campaign, which helped increase tourism numbers in the city.

The presentation listed some of the potential benefits of increased visits from gay and lesbian tourists, including helping P.E.I. steal travelers from other destinations, attracting new customers and spurring regional travel.

Salvato said gay and lesbian tourists can also have a greater economic impact than straight travelers.

“Gay and lesbian travelers spend more and they do more,” he said.

Same sex weddings and groups are a huge market and a survey of gay travelers showed 30 per cent expressed interest in a wedding on P.E.I., he said.

“That’s an easy peesy kind of market, in a sense. It’s easy to fill and you are doing it for heterosexuals.”

Guaracino said 77 per cent of gay travelers who visited P.E.I. said they would recommend the province to others, but 51 per cent reported feeling uncomfortable, which could affect not only gay and lesbian tourism, but also the number of visits from straight tourists.

“I see that as a big problem,” he said.

The survey also showed 95 per cent of gay and lesbian travelers didn’t know P.E.I. has a gay pride celebration and although not all tourists would come to the province for a gay pride celebration it’s an indicator the community is open to gays and lesbians, Guaracino said.

“It’s one of those road signs that say ‘I might be welcome there’.”

Salvato said news of hate crimes, like the incident in which a gay couple’s home was destroyed in Little Pond, need to be counterbalanced with a positive message about P.E.I. in order to show travelers the province is gay friendly.

“You can control your message. You can control what you talk about,” he said.

Guaracino said research has shown gay travelers also give a better return on advertising investment because they tend to spend more than straight travelers.

But research also shows gay travelers who are aware of advertising geared toward them spend more money and stay longer than gay travelers who didn’t know about targeted advertising, he said.

“It is significant. It is measurable and it is immediate,” Guracino said.


Organizations: Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I., Rodd Royalty Inn.Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing

Geographic location: Philadelphia

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Recent comments

  • Another opiniion
    November 28, 2010 - 12:15

    If some gay people in positions of power were to bravely come out it may eventually show bullies and homophobics that being gay is more common than they think. I think that at times gay flamboyant parades may perpetrate a misdeed to gay people without meaning to. Since this is the image hillbilles see as gay they form an opinion then this is what every gay person is. it is rather sad that people feel they need to hide who they really are. In my opinion you are born gay. Denying that for the sake of society must be an awful place to be in.

  • KW
    November 27, 2010 - 13:37

    What a homophobic bunch of readers you have! Shame on you!

    • Christophobia
      November 27, 2010 - 17:01

      Congratulations, you are at least as intelligent as the common monkey, which is also able to accuse others of random, unscientific phobias. PS- Stop espousing your Christophobia (a completely irrational fear of Christianity).

  • Wheels
    November 27, 2010 - 12:40

    This is very interesting. I wondering of Tourism PEI is looking at promoting the Island to persons with disabilities as it is a larger segment of the population (22% on PEI)? They could promote accessible hotel and campground location and events that accommodations are provided to engage them! I cannot wait for that announcement!

  • Ashley MacIsaac
    November 27, 2010 - 10:47

    Most gay people do not have children- first reason gay adults have more money to spend on vacations- @.Gay people like th ebeach - PEI got the best ones-and you charge to get into them -3Gay people have a sense of tste for quaint things- like all the cut e cotteges old houses and tractors- and moost importantly Anne of Green Gables- come on- f that isn't camp -a term for gay freindly tinged entertainment-than I dont know what is.To not market is to say _ we don't want your money- and frankly if you dont want gay people's money- then you are insane or just aginst gay people being around in genral- and PEI- that is just wrong- Grow up -ps- IF Elton Joh n wants to come perform in PEI bringing milluions of dollars in tickets an hotels- would you refuse his gay fans come watch- I Don t think so -GOd it so pertubes me when people living in Canada a place that is modern with televisions-still have such small minds.

  • Sloan
    November 27, 2010 - 09:55

    What a complete waste of time. I hope we did not spend a lot of money to have these two from the states tell us about PEI -of which they know nothing. Love the guy telling us about gay weddings when his state does not allow it. Maybe their energies should be spent getting equal treatment in the states rather than a lecture about our tourism practices not meeting the gay travelers expectations.

  • rural guy
    November 27, 2010 - 08:35

    Could we not just have a slogan for everyone to come to PEI why should we be treating GAY couples any different. It is them who want to be treated the same as straight couples.

  • Dundas Sue
    November 27, 2010 - 00:05

    Why not market to this group. We attract families with by promoting certain things, we promote the fall flavours festival to those with lots of money to spend on food - we want people to come, spend time and money here and tell their friends about us. Why not!

  • reality check
    November 26, 2010 - 21:54

    What a narrow minded little rural society some posters on The Guardian make PEI out to be. They're stagnant and filled with hate. Sad really.

  • GayIslander
    November 26, 2010 - 21:08

    It's distrubing to see the homophobia that continues to be expressed in PEi in forums like this Guardian website. Don't people realize gay people only seek love and accepatnce like all peoples? Don't people realize that we're your priests, ministers, doctors, lawyers, sons and daughters, mechanics, and next door neighbours? Gay tourism is just anotehr market with lots of money to spend on PEI. Would it hurt to be a bit more accepting?

  • Donnie
    November 26, 2010 - 20:40

    We'll make a fortune selling them Anne of Green Gables asbestos duvets.....

  • Myopinion
    November 26, 2010 - 19:22

    The closest is far too crowded on PEI. The more exposure to same sex families for us, the better. I look forward to the day when a person is not defined nor judged by who they love on PEI and when there is no one left in the closet because of fear of being themselves. Invite same sex families to enjoy our beautiful Island. I think it will do more good for us than you think.

  • Jen
    November 26, 2010 - 19:05

    To Joe Blow: "Gay" is not being pushed in your face. ACCEPTANCE is. Which you obviously need to yet discover.

  • Statistical Reality
    November 26, 2010 - 18:31

    This is foolishness. The homosexual portion of society accounts for between 8% and 11% of the world. That's like saying we should only market Prince Edward Island to Jewish men between the ages of 44 and 46, who reside in Montreal. Why aim your marketing toward such a small group? Oh, that's right, because the group asked you to. Mmkay. But getting back to reality..... (And please refrain from showing your ability to repeat slogans by calling my reasonable statement a 'phobia,' or 'complete irrational fear').

    • Charles Foster
      November 28, 2010 - 21:28

      With respect, it is not just a matter of simple statistics. It is also about market segmentation and return on investment. Advertising dollars should be targeted where they can generate the greatest return. If this demographic is not being targeted by other travel destinations then a focused advertising campaign may translate into a profitable return. We see the same efforts being made with respect to golfers (another small yet profitable demographic).

  • Joe Blow
    November 26, 2010 - 18:24

    Are you kidding me!!!! STOP PUSHING GAY IN EVERYBODY'S FACE!!!!! I'm straight but you don't see me having a parade for it!!!

  • Donnie
    November 26, 2010 - 18:21

    Hmm, what's our slogan to attract this demographic going to be? Visit P.E.I! We'll let you know when it's time to leave by burning down your cottage....."

    • sven
      November 26, 2010 - 22:32

      Donnie..................you kill me

  • OK
    November 26, 2010 - 18:08

    I think this is going a bit far now don't you think?

  • Wondering
    November 26, 2010 - 17:22

    Why do we have to endorse our island to any one group, be it straight, gay, families, whatever?

  • Trevor John
    November 26, 2010 - 17:18

    That 51 per cent reported feeling uncomfortable, the fire in Little Pond (which indeed got mentioned on international news sites and blogs - and that no arrest has been made - cannot be whitewashed by a P.R. campaign. Police have also m just ade the outrageous request that all gay men voluntarily offer their DNA for comparison in the Byron Carr case on the faulty logic that only self-identified "gay men" have sex with men (instead of closetted "straight" men. Thinking like that from our police department makes a very deep impression on international readers. Nice talk is outweighed by actions and events. My councillor opined "homophobia is not much of a problem on PEI." Perhaps if he and the local police had attended the meeting last week , he would have been surprised by what individuals face on a daily basis (particular outside urban precincts and in schools from authority figures who also refuse to entertain the thought that not all is rosy for LGBT youth in schools.