Hotel owners and other business in Fort Lauderdale that court gay travelers are concerned about the effect Mayor Jim Naugle’s recent statements about gay people could have should the controversy be picked up by national news outlets.
The Miami Herald reports: “So far, the media coverage appears confined to Florida outlets, gay news sites and bloggers of all stripes. But as the controversy escalated, tourism officials braced for bigger fallout. Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, said staff contacted paid media watchers in New York and Europe to see how far the story had spread. She also consulted with the bureau’s New York public relations firm, which advised against drawing extra attention. ‘Some are urging responses,’ Grossman said of local tourism-dependent businesses. ‘Right now we don’t think an overreaction to what’s happening is necessary.’ The bureau has fought hard for the increasingly competitive gay travel market, which last year accounted for about 11 percent of Broward’s $8.5 billion tourism industry. Fort Lauderdale ranked No. 6 among gay travelers last year, beating out Miami, Orlando and Chicago.”
Remarks by Naugle at a news conference yesterday linking the city’s AIDS rate with its attraction to gay tourists only served to fuel the anger of hundreds of protestors at a demonstration later in the day:
“Answering a question at Tuesday’s press conference, Naugle questioned why Broward’s health department was working to reduce the county’s high AIDS rate while the Visitors Bureau tried to attract more gay vacationers. Naugle sits on the Tourist Development Council, which supervises the Visitors Bureau. In a telephone interview Tuesday, he questioned whether Broward’s success with gay vacationers might discourage others from visiting. ‘It could be that if we had a different marketing strategy, we might have 12 million people rather than 10 million people because we [would] have more families,’ he said. ‘Who really knows the outcomes of decisions like that?'”
Hotels hope Naugle doesn’t deter gay tourism [miami herald]
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