It’s been almost two years since Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the creation of Virginia’s first state-run LGBT Tourism Task Force, and recently the first bits of the group’s labor have been released.
A new resource guide with visible markers of LGBT support are now available for Virginia businesses through the state’s tourism website, Virginia.org. The site boasts about 13 million views a year as people from around the country and globe plan trips to the Commonwealth in search of destinations, attractions, lodging and more.
The tools released over the last few weeks allow business listings indicate their support for the LGBT community with a marker along side other qualities like gyms, pools and laundry service.
Users can also narrow your search to show only “LGBT Friendly” businesses in search results.
News of the new tourism options were sent out to members of the state’s tourism industry via e-mail, and among those who were interested in marking their businesses as “LGBT friendly.”
Tourism in Virginia represents about $22 billion in visitor spending, supports 216,300 jobs, and added $1.5 billion in state and local taxes in 2014 according to the newly released LGBT Tourism resource guide.
The guide offers information ranging from LGBTQ specific events like Prides around the state and campaign models based on Richmond’s OutRVA for localities to follow.
“Virginia has a strong network of organizations and businesses focused on inclusive and LGBT-friendly travel,” reads the guide. “Their combined efforts create an ideal network to explore when developing LGBT-friendly and inclusive travel marketing.”
The LGBT Tourism Task Force was created with the mission of increasing visitor spending by LGBT travelers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was assembly by Virginia Tourism Corporation and featured community members, activists, and marketers.
“Over the past year, the LGBT Tourism Task Force has worked diligently to provide thoughtful, important recommendations on how to make Virginia a welcoming destination to all travelers,” said Governor McAuliffe in a statement sent to GayRVA after the group presented its findings earlier this year. “This unprecedented collaboration of some of the brightest minds from the Commonwealth and beyond provided an important first step towards making Virginia a warm, inviting, and safe place for all travelers. I am very proud of the Task Force’s accomplishments to date, and look forward to the group’s continued collaboration. Today, we can say, truly and emphatically, that Virginia is for Lovers—and welcoming to all.”