Waymon Hudson

Fort Lauderdale rolls out the rainbow carpet for the U.K.

Filed By Waymon Hudson | April 10, 2008 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Media, Politics, Politics
Tags: Florida, hate crimes against LGBT people, Naugle, tourism, United Kingdom

The Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau is launching a pink campaign into the British market aimed at bringing in gay travelers. This PR launch comes in conjunction with Zoom Airlines beginning a new direct route from London to Fort Lauderdale twice weekly.

This push comes after Fort Lauderdale got a major black-eye from the extended battle between Mayor Jim Naugle and the LGBT community. After many bigoted tirades from Naugle about the gay community (including that they were predators, disease carriers, and chemically imbalanced, among other ridiculous things...), it seemed to many that Fort Lauderdale might fall off the list of top LGBT tourist destinations. There were calls for boycotts across the blogosphere and in major LGBT newspapers. The fight against Naugle gained international attention, with coverage in gay media across the globe, which only further tarnished Fort Lauderdale's reputation.

Some tourism industry watchers blame Naugle as part of the reason there has been a drop in tourism in South Florida. The Visitors Bureau has been working furiously to stop any major fall-out, launching campaigns in major LGBT magazines around the country and now starting this international push. But will it be enough?

Further compounding South Florida's problems have been several highly publicized hate crimes, including the murder of 17 yr old Simmie Williams Jr and the gay-bashing of a couple in a popular tourist spot. Florida has also been the focus of national coverage because of the anti-gay marriage amendment coming up for a vote in November, which would not only outlaw gay marriage but also take away domestic partnerships.

Florida's gay community has been rallying and fighting back, which many hope will show the strength of the community. The South Florida LGBT community has been active in not only holding protests against Naugle and the recent hate crimes, but has been putting forward a record number of out candidates for every level of office as well. The Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus has been flexing its muscle across the state as well.

It is estimated that LGBT tourism brings in over $1.2 billion dollars a year to the region. It's not hard to see why many in South Florida are counting down the days until Naugle leaves office.

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How funny, Waymon. That's the first thing I thought when I saw the press release too. "Well, Naugle has sunk the LGBT tourism for the United States, they need to look to England now."

That's the best public relations move they can make - get rid of Naugle!

Waymon, I'm sure national coverage of Naugle and the hate crimes has played a part in decreasing gay tourism in Fort Lauderdale. But we've also seen a large tourism drop in younger families during winter & spring breaks. There was also a lot less elderly "snowbirds" that didn't come for the "season." With the price of gas going thru the roof and the economy in the toilet most people don't have the disposable income they've had in the past.

Regarding the marriage amendment I'm hoping there are a few booths at Pridefest this weekend with lots of literature and other things to help increase our ability get this nonsense voted down.

"We hate you, but we love your money."


All the best to the activists that have to fight this hick.

I agree that other factors have played into the decline in tourism. I just think that people are less likely to choose our region as a vacation destination because of the recent turmoil. When the belt tightens, people look more closely on where they choose to spend the little disposable income they have.

And you can count on seeing me at PrideFest this weekend talking to the crowd about the upcoming amendment and what we need to do to defeat it.

The best thing our community can do to restore out reputation is elect more out and proud officials to office and make sure we never have another Naugle.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | April 11, 2008 1:45 AM

Let's see, Florida politician...pandering jackass. If we can break that cycle we will have worked a miracle. As a refugee from South Florida (no one mentioned Hurricanes which is plenty of reason not to come!) I know that there is a base of Florida born folks ("crackers') who stick together like glue and a group of "carbetbaggers from up north" who keep causing everything to cost more (according to the "crackers").

You have north Florida which is extremely "Southern" and south Florida which is extremely "Northern." You also have a huge number of old, cheap, conservative, retired military types who only conceive of civilization being near a golf course.

South Florida has always had a huge international visitor base (when locals have not shot at them on expressways) and a Gay component to this is logical. While the dollar is so weak, and the Pound/euro is so strong, it is only to be expected that as many means of filling hotels in South Florida with as many Europeans as possible will continue. And yes, Floridians want your money while locals still gripe about "gay pride week" at Disney/Epcot.