Efforts being made to make Prince Edward Island tourism more gay-friendly

The Canadian Press
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Prince Edward Island is already considered an attractive tourist destination with its spectacular scenery, sandy beaches, challenging golf courses and friendly people. But tourism operators on “the gentle island” are also making an effort to get the message out that P.E.I. is gay-friendly.

“What we’re trying to do is let travellers know that Prince Edward Island is gay welcoming and we have a lot of the things that the research indicates that gay travellers are seeking,” said Bill Kendrick, chairman of the P.E.I. Gay Tourism Association.

He said gay travellers are looking for the same features in a destination as anyone else, plus a bit more.

“Gay travellers are looking to assure themselves that where they’re going they’ll feel comfortable, they’re going to feel safe, and they’re not going to feel uncomfortable when they book accommodations as a same-sex couple.”

Kendrick said that can be as simple as not asking a same-sex couple if they want separate beds or separate rooms.

Vicki Francis, owner of the Cranford Inn in Charlottetown, said it’s simply a matter of listing the room options as you would with any guest, and not making any assumptions.

“If you ask for the King suite, you don’t want a staffer saying ’but that’s just one bed’,” said Francis. “You have to build that awareness.

“Even having pictures in the tourism guide that shows two men or two women builds awareness.”

The P.E.I. Gay Tourism Association is working with the Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island and Travel Gay Canada to offer diversity training courses for tourism operators and their staff.

The effort goes beyond just trying to be accepting and politically correct. Kendrick said it’s also good business because the gay travel market in Canada is significant.

He said research shows that gay travellers tend to travel more frequently, stay longer and spend more.

“On average the general population travels once or twice a year, while the gay travel market tends to travel three to five times a year,” Kendrick said. “It makes sense to position yourself so you become a choice for that market.

“This is a niche market we think we can appeal to because we have a lot of the cultural, cuisine, the history, the beaches and all of the things that the research tells us gay travellers are looking for in a destination.” Bill Kendrick, chairman of the P.E.I. Gay Tourism Association.

“This is a niche market we think we can appeal to because we have a lot of the cultural, cuisine, the history, the beaches and all of the things that the research tells us gay travellers are looking for in a destination.”

Kendrick said his association will do very specific target marketing on certain websites and in gay travel publications.

“I think we will learn over time what works,” said Francis. “We are now in a social media age and we have to move in that area.”

Kendrick said Tourism P.E.I. has been very supportive, and has included a gay-welcoming message within the annual visitors’ guide.

“Now on the provincial government’s tourism website, if someone types in ’gay friendly’ as keywords in the search engine, then members of our association’s accommodations, stores and restaurants can now be found,” Kendrick said. “That didn’t exist two years ago.”

Brenda Gallant, the director of marketing for Tourism PEI, said it’s important to provide excellence in customer service for everyone who visits the Island.

However, Gallant said research done by the Tourism Research Centre at the University of Prince Edward Island shows that the department doesn’t need to do any specific target marketing to the gay and lesbian community.

“A lot of what we have to offer is very appealing to the gay community,” she said. “When you’re going out there with the beautiful beaches and the phenomenal seafood and the whole culinary aspect, it does draw that market ... so you’re doing it just by the regular campaign that we have now.”

She said the visitors’ guide and Tourism P.E.I. websites have sections that provide information and links to ensure people know that the Island is gay and lesbian friendly.

Gallant said they will continue to work with various associations on the Island and encourage operators and their staff to take sensitivity training.

“We certainly pride ourselves on friendliness here on Prince Edward Island, so you want to ensure that whoever the market is that is coming here feel they are being welcomed with open arms,” Gallant said.

Organizations: P.E.I. Gay Tourism Association.He, Cranford Inn, Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island and Travel Gay Canada Tourism Research Centre University of Prince Edward Island

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Canada

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Recent comments

  • Disposable income
    November 12, 2012 - 14:15

    Anyone with disposable income we should be welcoming with open arms. It stands to reason that gay people have more disposable income to drop in our province because their families typically don't have children so therefore more money to spend on leisure and travel. Gay people, please come spend money in my province. Want to buy a rainbow flag with a cheesy PEI logo on it at gift shop? Only $29.95! Get them while they last! God bless you and your wonderfuly gay dollars.

  • SG
    November 09, 2012 - 22:24

    What happened to the Biblical statement, "Judge Ye Not Lest Ye Be Judged."

  • SG
    November 09, 2012 - 22:10

    Who is supposed to be receiving Special Pandering? Shouldn't all people be treated equally? Why should anyone who chooses to hug their partner, child, friend in public be seen as " having a penchant of displaying their sexuality?" I don't consider holding hands, hugging, kissing in public displaying someone's sexuality. I have seen many adults, teens, senior's doing so in public. I've never supposed it had anything to do with their sexuality. I'd much rather see people displaying affection for others than see them displaying disrespect or violence towards others.

  • Carmen Young-McGrattan formerly from Murray River P E I
    November 08, 2012 - 11:36

    I was brought up to be NICE to EVERYONE..... I don't know who was teaching some of you folk, when you were kids. I will believe and feel Whatever I want... but I still and always will (even though I'm now FROM AWAY) treat others as I would like to be treated!.. shame on you all for mouthing off to Mr. Kays... I don't know the man, but he seems much more intelligent then Most of you on here! If you have any problems with my posting... please feel free to email me at ravinone_can@yahoo.com..... have a wonderful day Islanders.. ALL OF YOU!

  • Carmen Young-McGrattan
    November 08, 2012 - 11:27

    Well said Mr Kays... well said... you thought to applying to the Guardian? or running for A "political" party......

  • Bipolar Cowboy
    November 07, 2012 - 16:28

    Treat all people equally Live your own life, dont force your views on others. Never listen to the Department of Tourism. If they were any good at the Tourism business they would be in it.

  • citizen
    November 05, 2012 - 19:56

    Treat everyone equally. Maybe if some high profile Islanders came out of the closet more ,some people would realize that gay is a good portion of the population, and ,people are born gay or straight. And it is natural .

  • MACDONALD BANK
    November 02, 2012 - 08:37

    Equality and respect ... should be directed towards the world's gay community. Religion or should I say that bogus cult Christianity -- has gotten away with its hate for too long!

  • Wayne MacKinnon
    October 30, 2012 - 14:13

    There it appears to be a tone of desperation in the content of this article. Obviously the power brokers at the Dept. of Tourism have no idea what is required to increase our tourism numbers here. The tourism numbers could easily double if the Dept. of Tourism would create a level playing field for all ideas presented. I spent 8 months trying to put forward a plan to develope Charlottetown as one of the premeire cultural capitals of Canada to David MacKenzie. He never had the courtesy of returning our call or setting up a meeting to learn all the details of the plan. Now they have everyone talking about developing a niche market for a market that many church going people find immoral. Promote one small market at the expense of a much larger market. Not a great marketing plan in my humble opinion;I suggest you better go back to the boardroom and develop a new strategy. Good Luck.

    • This Just In
      November 08, 2012 - 07:27

      Your obvious ignorance of the tourist demographic is most likely the reason your plan was not followed up on. Pandering to the religious is not going to improve our numbers. Targetting the family of 4 is not going to improve our numbers. A gay couple spends more than any other demographic on vacation.

  • MOE
    October 30, 2012 - 13:27

    Well Bill , you are right , if the shoes fits wear it , we are all people of God , I do not hate , gays Jews , Muslims , etc. I know some very nice people of the above mentioned but for all that there is , please stop making a point and placing yourself , out in the front . Live as we all do ,[ I'm white Christion etc. look at me .] I just go about living my life harming no one . As we alll should. STOP COMPLAING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • think before you speak
      October 30, 2012 - 15:47

      ahaha exactly, BECAUSE you are a white Christian you get to live like you do.

  • gary r wilson
    October 30, 2012 - 05:15

    i really agree prince edward island is a great place to visit i think that the gay traveler from accross canada should visit the island i also agree with sjp

  • Denise ling
    October 29, 2012 - 23:14

    I believe we need to focus on reviving tourism on the Island to everyone. It shouldnt matter what your sexual orientation is. PEI needs to focus on fun affordable vacations for all family types. We need to be more welcoming, respectful, helpful to all people visiting here... I also agree with the comment about not hibernating in the winter... Something has to be done to keep people coming here all year. Encourage more stores to come here, expand our racino into a real casino, reach out to more entertainers to come to charlottetown not just Summerside...

  • Too long for an Editorial
    October 29, 2012 - 17:17

    And this is a strategy to attract more tourists to this is the new niche market? Why are we settling for and developing tourist attraction strategies to niche markets? Does this mean that the “Traditional” family with a Man, Woman and children are no longer welcome? It is also a fact that more people own pets and spending more money on their pets than ever before. Should we introduce a Bylaw to allow Dogs and Cats at the tables of fine Restaurants to attract yet another “Niche” market? There are some things we do well in PEI such as: Lobster Carnival, Old Home Week, Regis & Kelly, Will & Kate, ECMA’s, Country Music Festival, National sporting events, Air Shows, The Big Break. To name the first few that come to mind and I am sure there are plenty of other good examples. I assume the Country Music Festival draws some good revenues? So rather than have a music Festival in every county every other month let’s try to do something different. It is true there can be too much of a good thing. The statement is made that Gay Travellers do Travel more frequently, stay longer and spend more money, Is this really true? Does this information come from the same place as the information we got about 10 – 15 years ago regarding golfers? Before we spent millions developing golf courses in every picturesque corner of the Island? A typical golf destination getaway now consists of purchasing a $700- $1000 package that allows 2- 4 people come to the Island and golf at high end courses with resorts for 2 -3 nights and play 4 - 6 rounds of golf on various courses. Other than the initial package the only place that golfers spend money is on the course and the resort as they are too busy golfing to take in any local culture. Mention Rainbow Valley to many Atlantic Canadians and they know what you are talking about as they were likely there packed up in the ole station wagon as kids and travelled to PEI for a day or weekend trip. I don’t know how many of you have loaded up the family for a road trip lately. It is a fact Kids have small bladders and have to stop often along a road trip. Every stop results in spending a minimum of $20 for a snack and all for a few minutes of peace and quiet for the next few miles down the road until another interesting place pops up along the route. I do know being a parent of a family on a road trip you have a budget for your trip and will always spend it all even stopping at Gateway Village for an ice cream or at the WoodIslands Interpretive center for a treat before boarding the ferry. So let’s try something to lead the industry as Tourism is one of our top grossing Industries in PEI right now. In today’s world we can build Indoor ski slopes in the desert, indoor wave pools in the frozen tundra. And the best we can do is “Try” to attract a niche market by being more politically correct when taking a reservation from someone booking a room? Islanders invested in a business in New Haven to build a wave pool and water park why didn’t we truck in some sand, put a roof over it, Add natural sunlight and call it an indoor Island Paradise or Oasis? But we didn’t. The wave pool fell flat and we spent sorry, Invested even more money to expropriate the very same property to build or Improve a nearby highway. With the economic challenges here in Atlantic Canada that we all like use for an excuse as to why we don’t travel locally or have more “Staycations”. May be a useful angle that we as Islanders can capitalize on and generate more local dollars as more Atlantic Canadian men and women alike head to work in Alberta in the Oil Industry. Many of these people are working shift work as a 14 -21 day on and 7 – 14 day off rotations and many of these people are heading home for their 7- 14 days off after being cooped up in a remote camp, with some additional cash in their pockets. Unfortunately there is very little during this time of year during your time off in PEI. So eventually People will spend a week in Edmonton shopping or in Banff Skiing etc. Rather than return home to Atlantic Canada and support local economy and embrace local culture. If we only had something “new” and exciting to do here in PEI in the off or shoulder season. We could re-invent tourism and become a leader of the industry rather than settle for a Niche Market and Hibernate during the winter months. Perhaps an Atlantic Canadian approach to tourism would be a benefit and sell people to come home or stay around home. Rather than compete with our neighbors for these dollars. Let’s showcase what each province has to offer and do it well so we can all win from this Strategy. “You get what you Give”

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    October 29, 2012 - 15:18

    Hey everybody, look at me, I'm special, or my group is special, or whatever. Bull Feathers. There are too many CLASSES of people these days. Why can't we all just be humans (part of that bigger group called humanity) and act accordingly. If you are gay fine, stop trying to get special attention. If you are a Christian or Muslim and it offends you to watch these open displays of affection by all means continue to be offended. Do not compromise your religious beliefs to satisfy the world or the few. Ask God to help you be more accepting and loving towards all peoples. You can no more help being offended by their actions than the gays get offended by Islanders actions. We are not to let the world change us, we are to change the world by showing that we love our neighbors as ourselves. I can love my neighbor and at the same time be offended at his actions, not at the fact that you are gay, but I find the behaviors offensive. If gays do not like the way they are treated here then by all means they have the right to go somewhere else just as everyone has the right to. No one is stopping you. If I am disgusted by gays displaying an outward show of affection so be it. If people are teasing you or whatever, deal with it, the same way other minorities or people in a "special" class who get bullied and harassed do. GROW UP and stop acting like whiners unless that's the impression you are trying to make. I am fed up with the immoral behaviors of much of the world. If I am offended by people going to bars and drinking, I would do my best not to go to bars. I might even consider moving somewhere where alcohol is prohibited. I would not try to change the attitudes of those who do like bars and drinking. Stop trying to change me, because I am not trying to change you. Live and let live.

    • TA
      October 29, 2012 - 15:53

      Bigot in disguise....that is all you are Mr. Bill Kays.

    • bob
      October 29, 2012 - 18:40

      Bill Kay you wrote what I wanted to say but yours was much longer.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      October 30, 2012 - 08:43

      Apparently you cannot tell a bigot from a Christian. I am not surprised. Standing up for the righteousness of Christ Jesus is something I am proud of.

    • GRANT MACDONALD
      November 02, 2012 - 08:33

      Being black, left-handed or being gay is just as natural. It is a sometimes rare occurrence to fall in Love and to hold that person in your heart and be loved in return ... it is something that should be celebrated! If it’s between two guys or two girls -- all the better. It takes even more courage to defend that LOVE! The evil writings in Leviticus 18:22 … against gays – depict: “P” … “priestly rules” & expanded by the pope; homophobes and religious frauds … to attack the gay community and never meant to apply to the public -- but to priests. Leviticus was written long after Moses -- 600BC. There is no scientific evidence to prove any of the cross related bogus elements of christianity and other religions. Our early human ancestors; on this earth … go back more than 6 million years … 5,996,000 years before the Greeks, Romans and the Jews. Christianity is basically a 2012 year old fictional cult. In the year 300 AD when Emperor Constantine, who to some was the first pope; went on to fabricate & market Christianity! Christianity is a fantasy; which turned out to be one of the most hateful & evil concoctions ever perpetrated on the world. It is written; so therefore it shall be? We are the chosen people? Such a wicked fantasy. To see the religious lunatics manipulate government and our lives is shameful. The pope and churches fully aware that Leviticus 18:22 applies to priests only … refuse to remove this stigma … maliciously persecuting gays. Kids are being bullied into suicide …!

    • TA
      November 02, 2012 - 11:19

      Oh yes Bill Kays, your special group (Christians) is the only group of whiners that is ALLOWED to stand up and be proud. Not gays and lesbian, not people who are minorities, lest they offend you and your Christian beliefs. Quite frankly your Christian beliefs and the way you promote your own agedaand bully others while hiding behind those beliefs is offensive to me. I am a Catholic born, bred and raised athiest who has no tolerance for that behavior. Seems clear that you think the only CLASS of people that should exisit is Christians.

    • Cwed
      November 29, 2012 - 15:48

      Oh, cool, another bigot. That's exactly what PEI needs.

  • SJP
    October 29, 2012 - 13:19

    Just make PEI more tourist friendly in general, I think you will find gay people like the same things non gay people do. Then put a bit of effort into letting our children know that people come in all varieties, and deserve to be treated EQUAL.

  • Observer
    October 29, 2012 - 12:50

    I think the tourism better be very careful on what they say or promote...because not everyone here on the Island let alone anywhere is else is "friendly"period. The only reason this maybe more noticable is because we are a smaller province/city. This shouldnt even be up for discussion..“We certainly pride ourselves on friendliness here on Prince Edward Island, so you want to ensure that whoever the market is that is coming here feel they are being welcomed with open arms,” Gallant said"PERFECT.. we are ALL equal and no one should have too worry if we are gay friendly or anything friendly..we just ARE!! Good lord this is 2012.

  • Huh
    October 29, 2012 - 12:44

    OR, you could treat "them" like everyone else. Human beings, not a "niche market". Ridiculous.

  • Lori
    October 29, 2012 - 11:29

    Brenda Gallant has a lot of education to get done. It is sad to see and experience some of the attitudes to anyone who is a bit different. Which is kind of ironic , sad and disaapointing given that this is 2012.

  • Tom Jacobs
    October 29, 2012 - 11:02

    Why are they lying? PEI is one of the most bigoted, anti-gay places in the country! If you are a male, try walking down the street with another male friend on any weekend night and listen for what people from cars yell at you. Or, try holding hands with a man and see how that goes.

    • Straight Guy
      October 29, 2012 - 11:32

      Unfortunately, that can happen everywhere. Immature people don't just come from PEI. Go ahead hold hands, then maybe another couple will too. Sure there will be immature people who yell things, but the more often they see it the more likely they are to either accept it or leave it alone. Otherwise you (or whoever) are letting them win. Isn't that what pride is all about?

    • unforetunate
      October 29, 2012 - 12:48

      I have seen the same behaviour elsewhere. that's not new. On the other hand there are people who take pride in being victims and sometimes imagine problems are more prevelant than they are to give reason to voice positions.

    • myislandhome
      October 29, 2012 - 12:58

      I second that, Straight Guy! Pride is about being PROUD and not backing down, despite the snickers and slurs and uneducated hate speech.

    • Cromwell
      October 29, 2012 - 17:44

      Simple answer - don't hold hands! I think most Islanders could care less about the sexual orientation of anyone, but homosexuals have an increasing penchant of displaying their sexuality in an 'in-your-face' manner, as a challenge to regular (I refuse to use the sarcastic 'straight' preferred by homosexuals) people, such that they can then whine when people complain. Other have said it eloquently - no special pandering for any specific group of visitors.

    • TA
      November 02, 2012 - 11:46

      TO CROMWELL - "Simple answer - don't hold hands!" This is simple to you as I sense that you are not ever denied a simple right to hold hands because you may be mocked or worse. Seriosuly your comment of homosexuals having "an increasing penchant of displaying their sexuality in an 'in-your-face' manner," is aboslutely moronic. How about some simple tolerance for something that does not even really hurt you in ANY way? TO STRAIGHT GUY - yes there are immature people everywhere but where I live seeing this is so common that nobody even bats an eye - as it should be. I am straight female and promote PRIDE ALL THE WAY BABY!!

    • Chad Hughes
      November 08, 2012 - 11:30

      To Islanders that say PEI is a place of bigotry and non-acceptance for minorities; Have you ever traveled anywhere outside of your own community? PEI, though small, is one of the most friendly places I've ever had the privilege of living in. My work takes me all over North America and to say that hate is stronger there is a foolish statement. It's the unknown that scares people. Its not that they don't accept it, it's simply that they don't understand or have never encountered it. If you're gay, be gay and be proud, let Islanders see it and make them become comfortable with it. I currently live in Calgary and, for example, gay men are ridiculed on the streets on a weekend night more than I have ever witnessed in my years living on PEI. Mind you, there's more gay people out here, but that doesn't change the fact that me, as a person, has witnessed more hate fueled comments in 5 years in Calgary then I have in 25 years on PEI. I read so many comments on here of people complaining about the citizens and lifestyle on PEI. If you don't like it, it's a big ole world out there. Explore it and move away. You're not stuck on PEI. There's a bridge and a boat, stop playing the victim and whining about your surroundings and embrace them or make a change. It's these types of people that are probably hurling insults out the window of a moving vehicle to minority groups. PEI is what it is, a slow paced, old school community, rich in culture and history with great food, wonderful beaches and friendly people. That doesn't make it a "niche" gay market, that makes it a beautiful place that everyone, gay/straight, young/old and black/white should be able to enjoy.