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What City is Doubling Down on Transgender Tourism?

What City is Doubling Down on Transgender Tourism?

Gray says he didn’t make his pitch to the SCC last year and to his boss, Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, without doing his homework. First he reached out to local businesses, government, and police to gauge support.

Then he commissioned what he called the largest, first-ever survey of transgender travelers in North America. “We know a lot about gay travelers and lesbian travelers, but little if anything has been known about the transgender traveler… until now,” Gray says.

The goal was to identify the motivations, needs and priorities of the transgender tourist market. Community Marketing & Insights of San Francisco conducted a comprehensive online survey of 700 self-identified members of the transgender community across the United States. Trans folk from every state except Wyoming and Montana responded.

And the survey, which Gray called “extraordinary,” showed trans travelers were looking for just such a diverse, welcoming, and safe destination, where laws protect LGBT residents and visitors from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression in employment, housing & lodging.

So this week, Gray launched “The Transgender Travel Initiative” to specifically welcome trans tourists.

Why did it take so long for Fort Lauderdale to recognize this segment of the travel population? “I was so wrapped up in the L and the G, I admittedly didn’t even think about the T. But I wanted to expand my tourism platform established 18 years ago, and the way to do that was to focus on the forgotten T.”

His million dollar campaign to attract LGBT visitors expanded within the last year to include mainstream television commercials and new part of their website devoted to gay and lesbian travelers. A year later, Fort Lauderdale now also boasts a landing page for trans travelers. Gray is also proud to point out no other convention visitors bureau in the world has a department like his devoted solely to attracting LGBT tourism.

But will SCC attendees be able to afford four days in Fort Lauderdale? “The hotel rate is exactly the same as SCC Atlanta,” Gray said. “The airfare is competitive, and we think people may even spend less here than they did in Atlanta.”

To Gray, “personally, it just feels right to be developing this initiative, and more importantly it is the right time for Greater Fort Lauderdale. We will continue to be LGBT leaders and we intend to make a difference in the transgender marketplace.

We have to raise the bar for trans inclusion.”


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