When people think of popular destinations in the U.S. for LGBTQ tourists, San Francisco, Provincetown and Key West are usually top-of-mind. But Virginia is vying for a spot on the list.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) recently announced the launch of a new campaign that seeks to entice LGBTQ travelers and their loved ones to visit the Old Dominion State. Under the guidance of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s LGBT Tourism Task Force, Virginia’s website was updated with a section specifically dedicated to LGBTQ tourism, with recommendations for wining, dining, weddings and family fun.
Looking for a place to take the whole family out? The campaign recommends Busch Gardens or the museum at the site of the Jamestown settlement. Need to grab a bite to eat? You could hit up Bistro 1888 or Heritage in Richmond. Just looking to get into some nature? The website also has a plethora of options for you to explore.
"Virginia is proud to be an open and welcoming destination for every visitor attracted by our scenic mountains and beaches, as well as our world-renowned restaurants, wineries and breweries," Governor Terry McAuliffe said in a recent press release. "I am pleased the Virginia Tourism Corporation has created this landing page to connect travelers with inclusive, LGBT-friendly establishments across the Commonwealth. Virginia is truly for lovers, and we hope you have an unforgettable experience visiting the greatest state in the greatest nation on Earth!"
The VTC has also developed an "LGBT Tourism Resource Guide," detailing their many partnerships and resources dedicated to LGBTQ travel in the state. A new logo based on Virginia’s state slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers,” has also been designed and will be used on branded merchandise during upcoming Pride events.
LGBTQ tourism is mutually beneficial for the LGBTQ community and the state. According to the state's travel resource guide, a whopping $57 billion is spent by LGBTQ tourists in the U.S. each year, and although vast progress has been made in protecting LGBTQ communities, explicit designations for businesses and spaces that are LGBTQ-friendly remove the fear of facing stigma.