The Center will open to the public on Friday, July 19.
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) visitor center is Seattle’s first (and one of only two) such visitor centers in the U.S. Miami is the home of the other LGBT visitor center.
“Seattle’s vibrant, progressive and welcoming community is the perfect home for this unique resource for the LGBT traveler,” says Louise Chernin, executive director of the GSBA. “Open to all, The Seattle LGBT Visitors Center will be a great destination for all travelers to find hotels, exciting nightlife spots, fabulous food, entertainment, shopping and attractions.
“The LGBT traveler will know that each business found inside the visitors center is friendly, supportive and gladly welcomes the LGBT traveler,” continues Louise.
The 200-square-foot visitors center, hosted by 1st Security Bank, features a street-side space located at the bank’s 614 Broadway E. branch.
The center, a project of the GSBA, will be staffed part-time and offers a wide array of Seattle visitor information and services including brochures, visitor guides, maps, a 60” TV screen with scrolling information and access to Travel Gay Seattle, the GSBA web travel portal.
“As a local bank, we are deeply committed to the communities we serve. What better way to support Capitol Hill’s vibrant neighborhood than to host GSBA’s Seattle LGBT Visitors Center? We thank Louise and the GSBA for this amazing opportunity,” says Joe Adams, CEO of 1st Security Bank.
LGBT travelers comprise approximately 10 percent of the consumer travel market share in the U.S. and, on average, have higher disposable incomes than members of other niche travel markets. The estimated annual economic impact of LGBT travelers is $70 billion. The GSBA and its travel industry partners continue to work together to position Seattle as a top destination for these travelers, and help create new sources of revenue for Seattle and the Puget Sound region.
“The LGBT community already plays a vital role in the economy and vitality of the Puget Sound region, and now with marriage equality, we now have an even greater opportunity to harness the economic impact of the LGBT traveler,” says Louise.
In just the first four months that legal same-sex marriages were performed in Washington State, 14 percent were for out-of-state couples, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
“We’re proud to support the GSBA with this new venture during an important time for LGBT civil liberties,” says Tom Norwalk, president and CEO of Visit Seattle. “Our city has always been known as a progressive, welcoming destination that promotes LGBT civil rights and equality for all, and now Washington State has joined in extending marriage equality.”
“Extending a warm welcome is the right thing to do, but we also hope it encourages more LGBT tourism dollars which, in turn, strengthen our local and state economies,” he adds.
LGBT visitor centers brick and mortar or virtual are catching on.
New York, Vermont and Portland, Ore., all that states and cities with large LGBT communities and welcoming environments are jumping onboard to get its share of the pink travel dollar.
Portland, Ore. launched its own virtual LGBT travel center a year ago, QueerNW.com. Rose City queer community travel experts – Travel Portland, the Q Center and the Portland Area Business Association – partnered up to create the dedicated LGBT tourism website.
Earlier this month, New York launched its virtual LGBT visitors center I Love NY LGBT, an initiative spearheaded by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
Vermont has welcomed LGBT travelers with the Vermont Gay Tourism Association for several years. The association was launched by Willie Docto, who owns the Moose Meadow Lodge with his husband Greg Trulson, is supported by the State of Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. The organizations also sponsor Northern Decadence, an LGBT food and travel expo now in its third year.
Travel and tourism industry presenting partners include 1st Security Bank and Visit Seattle, which has maintained an LGBT tourism marketing partnership with the GSBA since 2009. Travel and tourism sponsors include the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, Sound Transit, Amtrak, and OutCity Magazine.
Full Disclosure: Heather Cassell is a contributing travel writer to OutCity Magazine.
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