Monday, July 25, 2005

Gay Tourism in Boston

It was a bit of a secret when Rosie O'Donnell's two-mommies cruise ship docked in Boston two weeks ago (an "RFamily" tour). Now we'll see events like that more often, given the new $100,000 advertising campaign to promote Boston to the worldwide homosexual tourism market.

Our tourism official says that "transgender" tourists will be welcome as well. Does that mean you won't have to go to Provincetown to see men in skirts, fishnets, and high heels?

Homosexual tourism is about sex, but it's also about money. MassResistance addressed this topic several months ago. It underscores that there's little evidence of discrimination against the "gay" community, if they have such high incomes as a group that high-end advertising targets them.

Boston and Cambridge are rolling out the rainbow carpet (Boston Herald, July 20, 2005):

Tourism officials hope to lure more gay and lesbian travelers through a new $100,000 advertising and marketing campaign.

The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau has teamed with Man Around - a U.K. company billed as the world's largest long-distance gay-tour operator - to market Boston and Cambridge as gay-friendly destinations.

Gay and lesbian travelers are an attractive market for the tourism industry, according to Pat Moscaritolo, the convention bureau's chief.

"Because they have higher income, they have a propensity or ability to travel,'' Moscaritolo said. "They also have an affinity to support destinations and companies that support the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.''

Those who book trips will receive a new eight-page gay and lesbian visitors guide to Boston and Cambridge, along with other promotional material. The guide touts Boston and Cambridge as having a "vibrant, creative and professional openly gay population, with many gays and lesbians active in cultural organizations and city, county and state politics.''

Do advertisements targeting any other segment of the touring population focus on the sexuality of the inhabitants at the destination? Maybe we should compare this to "sex tourism" in places like Thailand. Is this really so different? Granted, Thailand is known specifically for child prostitution. -- But isn't that where this slippery slope will take us? If the "gay" tourists are led by our tourism agency to the best "gay" nightclubs in Boston, how long before some of them take the next step? (Activists are already working to lower the age of sexual consent, and decriminalize prostitution. Then who can object to child prostitution, as long as the kid is over 12?... or 11? or 10?)