OPPORTUNITIES: Mario Paez, Rod Stringer, Louise Terry, Warren Loy, Cassandra Liebeknech and Nick Munro at Airlie Beach for the GALTA annual general meeting.
OPPORTUNITIES: Mario Paez, Rod Stringer, Louise Terry, Warren Loy, Cassandra Liebeknech and Nick Munro at Airlie Beach for the GALTA annual general meeting. Contributed

Whitsunday tourism is going gay-friendly and proud of it

GAY-FRIENDLY and proud of it.

Whitsunday Marketing and Development has strengthened its partnership with Gay and Lesbian Tourism Australia.

It is estimated that gay and lesbian tourists spend $20 billion on travel-related items each year.

Whitsunday Marketing and Development Ltd executive director Jeff Aquilina said the organisation had reviewed the national and international marketing opportunities through GALTA and made a decision to renew and strengthen its partnership.

"We are always trying to explore new niche market opportunities to stimulate further growth for the Whitsundays and with the association taking a more proactive approach in promoting destinations and holidays to their members and stakeholders, we saw a great opportunity for the Whitsundays," Mr Aquilina said.

Peter Brooks, who runs Whitsunday Moorings B&B at Airlie Beach, lists the business online as being "gay and lesbian friendly".

However, he said he hadn't had many gay couples stay at the six-bedroom bed and breakfast.

"I think if they are going after the gay market they need to provide things for the gay market, like a gay bar.

"We don't have that at Airlie. There is nothing really exclusively gay yet," he said.

Other regions, like Cairns, are already cashing in on the gay and lesbian market.

The northern city boasts Turtle Cove Beach Resort, which is an exclusively gay and lesbian resort.

Members of GALTA held their annual general meeting this year at Airlie Beach. GALTA president Rod Stringer said he was pleased to be working with the Whitsunday organisation.

"Gay and lesbian travellers, with their high disposable income, spend an estimated $20 billion annually on travel and related items and we look forward to working with the Whitsundays' tourism operators to promote their wonderful attractions through our association and our worldwide connections," Mr Stringer said.



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