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Ontario to Help Gay Toronto Tourism Guide

May 12, 2004 -- The Gay Toronto Tourism Guild (GTTG) is serious about Gay Marketing. They have been, ever since their inception in 2002. And now, with a little help from the province of Ontario , the GTTG is putting its hat into the Gay Marketing ring in a big way.

Were thrilled to have support from the Province, said Ric Tremaine, Guild President and owner of the Inns at Cawthra Square and Gloucester Square . Having their help (i.e., their matching funds to bolster our budget) means we can really make some progress and create some real awareness for Toronto . Weve also asked the City of Toronto and Toronto Tourism to step up to the plate for us. We dont have an answer from them yet, but weve made a pretty compelling case, and were hopeful.

Theres no doubt Toronto can benefit from the campaign (especially when you consider that the city and the province are still reeling from the after-effects of SARS). There is also no doubt that Toronto has what it takes to be an LGBT destination. The city has a large and diverse LGBT community that it welcomes with open arms, it has an enormous and diverse gay village in the heart of downtown, and it hosts a number of large LGBT events throughout the year (not the least of which is PRIDE Toronto, a week-long celebration each June that generates $ 74 million in economic impact, and is one of the largest Pride events in North America.)

Toronto is already a great destination for gay and Lesbian travelers, added Michael Swann, owner of ZELDAs, a popular Restaurant and Bar on Church Street . Unlike other destinations, we dont have to create a gay vacation experience. Its already here. We just need to get the word out so people know about us. Toronto is a great city, but its also a great LGBT vacation destination. Its just that we arent top of mind with most LGBT travelers. This campaign will go a long way in beginning to address that problem.

Indeed, once this campaign hits the market, Toronto will be well on its way to being top of mind with LGBT travelers. And it is for certain that creating top of mind awareness is critical to any destination hoping to cash in on the estimated $54 million in spending that the US LGBT domestic travel market represents. Other cities have done it for years, and there are a number of newcomers (especially since 9/11). said Greg Kozdrowski, owner of Rainbow High Vacations in Toronto . But here in Toronto , we have two huge advantages. First, were already a great LGBT city destination. And second, we have something that most other destinations (gay or not) do not have. We have legal gay weddings.

The Province of Ontario legalized gay weddings in 2003, and an entire wedding industry has grown up to meet the growing demands of LGBT travelers who want to do one simple thing: Get married.

A Canadian wedding is still, in some ways, better than a wedding in the US , Tremaine said recently, Because US Citizens can get married in Canada , and have their marriage legally recognized by the City of Toronto , the Province of Ontario , and the country of Canada . Moreover, they never have to worry about some politician trying to make their Canadian Wedding null and void. Once theyre married here in Toronto , its forever.

Tremaine may well be right. Because although gay marriage in the United States is a political hotbed at the moment, in cities like Toronto , gay marriage is legal, welcome and uncontested. And the GTTG wants folks to know that. We have basically one story with two messages, Tremaine noted, reiterating Kozdrowskis point. That Toronto loves its LGBT community and welcomes LGBT travelers, and that Toronto approves of, welcomes, and stands behind LGBT couples who want to come here to get married. Thats an important message to get out to the North American LGBT population. And now that the Province is helping us, we have the means to get started, and get the message out.

The Gay Toronto Tourism Guild maintains both a toll-free 800 number (1-866-480-7734), and a website ( ). Both provide informative and helpful information to LGBT travelers considering a visit to Gay Toronto. And for marriage-minded couples, there is an entire section of the website devoted to gay weddings on Ontario - everything from a step-by-step guide to securing a marriage license to suggestions regarding where the happy couple might want to hold a reception!

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