Sunny Skies: Fort Lauderdale Ups Commitment To LGBT Travel

fort lauderdaleOne of America’s first actively gay-friendly tourism destinations is redoubling its focus on LGBT travelers for the new year.

The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) has appointed its first-ever dedicated director for the LGBT market: Richard Gray, a fixture on the hospitality scene.

As owner of Royal Palms Resort and Spa, Gray became the official gay liaison to the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB in 1996, and, in 2007, the first openly gay appointee to the Broward County Tourist Development Council.

In his new role, Gray will target LGBT travelers, who now enjoy a plethora of options for international travel. “Having a full-time person for the gay market gives us an edge,” Gray said in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel.  His new strategy will include attracting groups and promoting special events, such as May’s BeachBear Weekend, now in its third year.

Gray also plans to update the way Fort Lauderdale markets to gay travelers:. “Social media has definitely taken the forefront, as has guerrilla marketing,” he said. “We’re going to attend the Gay Pride Parade in New York City. We’ll have gorgeous hot guys in our beach mobile, handing out giveaways like ‘Sunny’ wrist bands.” “Sunny” is a reference to Fort Lauderdale’s official “Hello Sunny” slogan. Last October, the CVB debuted one of the world’s first nationwide tourism commercials to integrate LGBT elements.