The Caribbean isles will get an influx of LGBT tourists, thanks to a new program inspired in part by Philadelphia’s LGBT-tourism efforts.
Bobby Bennett, a former senior tour operator who is based in North Carolina, this summer is launching Islands of Pride, a series of LGBT events at destinations throughout the Caribbean.
Bennett conceived of the effort after reviewing a tourism report from Community Marketing Inc. that detailed LGBT tourism patterns.
Bennett said the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation’s, now known as Visit Philly, LGBT-specific tourism efforts in the past decade, which have largely been credited with heightening the city’s appeal as an LGBT travel destination, inspired him to pursue the same for the Caribbean.
He touched base with DIVI Resorts to help get his idea off the ground.
“We wanted to promote LGBT travel to the Caribbean, which has always had a dedicated LGBT following but never marketed to them,” he said. “We wanted to provide warm-weather destinations near the water during the few months that the LGBT community pursues travel, so we thought this was a can’t-miss opportunity.”
Bennett said he and DIVI enlisted several destination marketing organizations from different islands to create four varied travel packages that will run from May-August and that cater to all segments of the LGBT community.
From May 21-25, St. Maarten will play host to Isle of Women, which will feature breakfast, dinner and drinks daily, a white party for charity, pool parties and a snorkel trip to Prickly Pear. Dive with Pride will be held from June 7-14, with breakfast daily, welcome cocktails and beach towels at pool and beach. Aruba Palooza will be held from July 16-20 with DIVI Golf & Beach hosting a pool party, a white party, special events and more. And the final outing, St. Croix USVI The Rainbow Regatta, will take place from Aug. 27-31 with pool parties, snorkel day sails and giveaways.
All trips, except for Dive with Pride, are four nights and all-inclusive, with rates starting at $1,000 per person.
Bennett said a website and social-media sites for Islands of Pride will be launched soon.
He added that he’s eager for community support to communicate the need for, and power of, LGBT tourism.
“We need our community and our community leaders to prove that the value of our dollar is established and important.”
For more information, visit www.islandsofpride.com, which will be launched shortly.