The Greater Fort Lauderdale area has hundreds of gay-owned and operated businesses and the highest concentration of same-sex couple households in the country and is noted as one of the most diverse and welcoming destinations in the world.
Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County opened the area’s first LGBT+ Visitor Center to showcase attractions of interest to LGBT+ visitors. Greater Fort Lauderdale has been popular with the LGBT+ community for decades, welcoming 1.5 million LGBT+ visitors who spend $1.5 billion annually. The Visitor Center is a result of a partnership between the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The new center will be co-located with the Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber of Commerce in the heart of Wilton Manors, Broward County’s gay-centric district with the destination’s largest concentration of gay residents and businesses.
“We are proud to have a long and positive history of supporting the LGBT+ community. The opening of this Visitor Center marks another important milestone in the uniqueness of our area in recognizing the value and needs of the LGBT+ visitor,” said Richard Gray, Vice President of LGBT+ for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We are very excited about this latest advancement in calling attention to all of our great attractions, hotels, clubs, bars and restaurants that cater to this important audience.”
The LGBT+ community has played a major role in the economic growth and development of the area and is a major tourism draw with its nightlife including some of the most popular LGBT+ bars in the country, such as Hunters Nightclub, and clothing and novelty stores, such as Pride Factory. Gay-owned business, such as Castelli Real Estate, have been drivers of real estate for many years and great ambassadors to draw new residents to Broward County. Many local businesses, such as Thasos restaurant, are active in providing support for LGBT+ causes in the community.
“The economic impact the LGBT+ community locally cannot be understated, especially by LGBT+ visitors that come here from all over the world year after year,” said Keith Blackburn, CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “While LGBT+ travelers have many of the same needs as straight travelers, many unique needs exist. This Visitor Center will serve as a place where people can stop in, ask for recommendations and receive information about the community, our member businesses, events and organizations.”
Greater Fort Lauderdale is also home to one of the largest Pride Centers in the country, the world’s first AIDS museum, the global headquarters of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, and the Stonewall Museum, one of the only permanent spaces in the U.S. devoted to exhibitions relating to LGBT+ history and culture.
Recently, the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB announced plans to host the first-ever Pride of the Americas Festival in 2020. The 10-day event will draw attention to the issues LGBT+ individuals face in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is expected to attract more than 350,000 attendees and will include a parade, a beach party, arts festival, social events and a human rights conference focused on LGBT+ rights.
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau has been welcoming LGBT+ travelers since 1996, when it became the first Convention & Visitors Bureau with a dedicated LGBT+ marketing department. Since then, Greater Fort Lauderdale has continued to break down barriers and facilitate visibility for the LGBT+ community at large, acting as a pioneer in the hospitality industry and ensuring that the destination is inclusive and welcoming with a diverse, safe and open community for all travelers.