The P.E.I. Gay Tourism Association will be working with the Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island to offer gay-friendly sessions across the province.
"It's the opportunity to offer a diversity training session for Island businesses that feel that they could benefit from having some training for either themselves or their staff in the area of dealing with the gay tourism market," said Bill Kendrick, president of the Gay Tourism Association.
He said the association is made up of a number of different tourism operators across the lsland and has been working to develop a training module.
Kendrick said they would most likely use a module created by Travel Gay Canada and working with TIAPEI to deliver the training over the winter and into the spring, prior to the next tourism season.
"A lot of it is certainly awareness of the unique needs that come with serving the gay tourism market," he said. "Some individuals working in tourism might, themselves, be uncomfortable dealing with a gay couple coming to their establishment whether it be an accommodation or a retail operation or an attraction. They might not know exactly how to address gay couples."
He said the classic faux pas is somebody working on reservations and a couple arrives who have made a booking and the person on the desk asks if they want a room with two beds or separate rooms.
"Assuming that they are travelling as friends as opposed to a couple," he said.
The training that will be offered will help raise awareness to provide a knowledge base on things to say, how to treat people.
"Many say you just treat people the same," Kendrick said. "You treat them with courtesy and respect. The reality is for many people sometimes dealing with a gay couple, it may be the first time they've done it. They might feel uncomfortable. They don't want to say anything wrong and in the process do say something wrong."
"We're not suggesting that there is a problem at all within the industry on Prince Edward Island but as a industry association, the P.E.I. Gay Tourism Association has been working towards identifying Prince Edward Island as a gay-friendly or gay welcoming destination," - Bill Kendrick, president of the Gay Tourism Association
The move by the association is to get the word out that P.E.I. is a gay-friendly travel destination.
"We're not suggesting that there is a problem at all within the industry on Prince Edward Island but as a industry association, the P.E.I. Gay Tourism Association has been working towards identifying Prince Edward Island as a gay-friendly or gay welcoming destination," he said. "We believe that we have many of things that gay tourists say they're looking for when they're travelling."
He said the surveys and research that has been done by Travel Gay Canada and other research groups have shown that gay travellers are interested in culinary experience, culture, heritage, beaches, and upscale accommodations.
"All of those things we have," Kendrick said. "We believe that P.E.I. could do more to identify itself as gay-welcoming and specifically market to that market."
He said it is important to make sure the industry is prepared to welcome more gay travellers.
Globally the gay travel market is a multi-billion industry, Kendrick said.
"It's difficult to get a handle on the potential market form for P.E.I. but certainly with Canada it's a multi-million dollar industry and potentially in the hundreds of millions within North America," he said. "It's not a huge market from an individual standpoint, necessarily but it is certainly a large market from an economic standpoint."