Quebec Launches 'Gay-Friendly' Campaign

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MONTREAL -- Quebec is aiming to boost visitor traffic from the gay and lesbian community through a campaign called Visit Gay-Friendly Quebec '98.

The campaign is being spearheaded by Tourism Quebec and Community Marketing of San Francisco, the umbrella organization of Travel Alternatives Group, a consortium of travel agencies and preferred suppliers serving the gay and lesbian community.

TAG also stages the annual Gay and Lesbian Travel Expo.

Sponsors of the Visit Gay-Friendly Quebec '98 campaign include Tourism Quebec, Air Canada, Tourism Montreal and the Greater Quebec City Office of Tourism.

The multimillion-dollar initiative represents the first time a government tourism board has created a comprehensive promotional campaign targeting gay and lesbian travelers.

St. Joseph¦s OratoryTourism Quebec has participated in gay and lesbian travel workshops put on by Community Marketing and TAG during the past few years, but the board wanted to better market the destination to the community and be one of the first to tap the market through a broader promotional initiative, according to Fair Gordon, director of tourism for the Western U.S. at Tourism Quebec.

"We wanted to do something on a larger scale to involve agents and suppliers, and we wanted to get involved early on," Gordon said. "The people of Quebec are very welcoming, and the destination is naturally gay friendly."

Gordon added that Quebec always has been a favorite among gay and lesbian travelers as a result of Montreal's large gay and lesbian population.

The campaign is designed to promote the French-speaking province's many lures to the gay and lesbian community, as well as the trade, in order to better sell the destination to the market.

The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association held its annual conference in Montreal this year, which fueled the momentum of the Visit Gay-Friendly Quebec '98 campaign, Gordon said.

The campaign is an international effort, with a heavy focus on the U.S. market.

Elements of the initiative include a direct-mail campaign, a print advertising campaign in gay-oriented consumer publications and the establishment of a direct extension for gay-friendly Quebec travel information under Tourism Quebec's toll-free number.

Among the efforts on the trade side, Tourism Quebec is hosting a number of familiarization programs with support from local tour operators throughout the year.

U.S. tour operators are being introduced to local Quebec suppliers, and as part of the campaign Montreal's annual Bienvenue Quebec trade show, held in October, will focus on Quebec as a gay-friendly destination.

Gordon said the show, which draws international tour operators to meet with tourism suppliers in eastern Canada, will feature a presentation by Tom Roth, president of the Community Marketing and TAG, who will speak on what constitutes "gay friendly" and how to market to the gay and lesbian travel community.

Visit Gay-Friendly Quebec '98 is designed to spotlight attractions and events geared toward the gay and lesbian community as well as mainstream draws that position Quebec for any traveler seeking history, local culture and unique events, according to Gordon.

"There are so many festivals and events in both Montreal and Quebec City," he said. "Quebec is well known for its culture, history, architecture and cuisine, and Quebec also is a great destination for adventure activities such as biking, hiking and canoeing. With its French flair, it is like going to Europe."

Some of the events in Montreal being promoted under the Visit Gay-Friendly Quebec '98 campaign include the Black and Blue Party in October and the gay and lesbian pride parade in July.

Other annual mainstream events in Montreal that attract a large gay and lesbian contingent include the International Festival of Jazz and the Just for Laughs comedy festival, both in July.

In Quebec City, home to the Winter Carnival in February, a new event for gay and lesbian skiers called Ski Out was held in March this year and will take place annually.

Agents can receive more information on Gay-Friendly Quebec or fam tours by contacting:
Tourism Quebec
Phone: (800) 363-7777 and ask for Operator 898

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