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Hawaii tourism applauds approval of civil union bill

Hawaii tourism applauds approval of civil union bill ( HONOLULU, HI – “Civil Unions mean that homosexual Americans may enjoy the same rights and privileges as heterosexual Americans. When it comes to tourism and based on national population figures, the American gay and lesbian community represents a US$47.3 billion travel market, or about 10% of the US travel industry. But based on the results of our surveys, it represents an even larger percentage of the overall travel market in terms of actual gay and lesbian dollars invested in travel,” stated Juergen Thomas Steinmetz, the president of the private Hawaii Tourism Association. Steinmetz has long been a supporter of a civil union legislation in Hawaii and was pleased to hear that in a 3-2 vote, the resurrected civil union bill in Hawaii (SB232) passed the Judiciary&Labor Committee.

Last year, Hawaii’s Governor at the time vetoed the civil union bill, and Neil Abercrombie, who was campaigning to be the Aloha state’s next Governor promised to sign the bill if it was reintroduced and came back approved by the Senate. Today, Mr. Abercrombie is the Governor, and the bill now goes to the full Senate for approval.

The civil union bill grants equal rights, benefits, and responsibilities to same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Should the civil union bill pass the full Senate, it is expected that Hawaii's tourism will be a huge beneficiary from the expected influx to the islands of visitors looking to be legally joined. This argument for civil unions is that they will produce a boom for tourism, as same-sex couples fly to the islands to get hitched.

Steinmetz continued: “The CVBs of Miami Beach, Key West, West Hollywood, and San Francisco are reaching out to the gay market for groups and conventions, and so are Philadelphia; Washington, DC; and Minneapolis. The British Tourist Authority and the Australia Tourism Commission have participated in the advertising efforts of gay tour operators. The government tourism boards of France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Canada, Puerto Rico, and California exhibit at the International Gay&Lesbian World Travel Expo. Tourism Québec has stepped forth to sponsor an ongoing ‘Visit Gay-Friendly Quebec’ campaign to increase gay and lesbian arrivals to the province.

“Why would all of these destinations encourage gay tourism? Because of the economically strong demographic profile of the gay community, but also because these governments want to encourage the rising popularity of their destinations among gay travelers, and recognize the potential of increasing the gay tourism market share through the implementation of effective promotional efforts. A recent focus group of leading travel agents serving the gay community agreed that the involvement of government tourism entities definitely helps support their sales efforts to reach the gay market and makes a difference when a client is considering destination options.”

“I am optimistic Hawaii tourism will gain from establishing civil unions in our state. GLBT travel to destinations they feel welcome. Gay and lesbian travelers would feel welcome again to visit Hawaii once we establish a civil union law in our state."

Hawai’I Tourism Association (HITA)

The Hawai`I Tourism Association’s (HITA) mission is to inform, educate, and update the global travel industry on current and emerging trends, economics, events, activities, businesses, and marketing that help shape the tourists’ perception of the Hawaiian Islands. HITA serves as a discussion forum for issues affecting industry members interested in doing business in Hawai`I while also working with new markets and regions expressing interest in visiting the Islands. The association offers member services that enhance the Hawaiian experience and promote the indigenous people, culture, and uniqueness which differentiates the most geographically-remote place on earth from other island sand-sun-surf vacation and business destinations

MEDIA CONTACT: Juergen Thomas Steinmetz, President, Hawaii Tourism Association, email: 808-536-1100

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