Vancouver city councillor Tim Stevenson wants city hall to invest $25,000 into a Tourism Vancouver marketing campaign specifically aimed at attracting US lesbians to the city.
Stevenson is planning to introduce a motion in council calling for the investment Jul 22. The public will be invited to speak to the motion on Jul 24.
Stevenson says the idea for the motion came about after he saw a report from the gay and lesbian market research firm Community Marketing Inc that ranked Vancouver as the number one international destination among lesbians. Among both gay and lesbian travellers, Vancouver was the fourth most preferred place to travel after Paris, London and Puerto Vallarta, according to Stevenson.
“I thought this would be really an important thing to do because I think the lesbian market tends to get forgotten, so it was just a gradual thing over time,” Stevenson explains.
He says he approached Tourism Vancouver about four or five months ago in a bid to “see how we might do some more promoting of our community,” particularly in the US.
“It became apparent that if I wanted to continue with this it was going to take extra funds coming from city council, and so we kind of laid that out and I decided to bring a motion forward.”
In a description of the project accompanying a notice about the motion, Stevenson says the proposed Tourism Vancouver campaign will attempt to generate one million impressions from lesbian travellers in the US annually.
“They’re targeting certain magazines, certain communities, certain centres, and they’re hoping for a million hits in a year, so it’s a pretty big strategy.
“We think that the returns will be really worthwhile, and we know that lesbians really like to visit Vancouver — they feel safe, it’s an open city, and one with a really good history of legal rights,” says Stevenson.
“I think it’s about time,” says the Vancouver Pride Society’s sponsorship coordinator Caryl Dolinko.
Dolinko says she already “put her name into council” to speak to the motion Jul 24 when it will be up for public discussion. Any move to promote lesbian tourism is a smart one, she says.
“There’s an awful lot of women that travel and they travel to Canada, and we would love to bring them up and get them a lot more involved in what we have up here,” says Dolinko, noting that Whistler Pride has already tapped into a huge lesbian market that comes up to Vancouver. “If we could grow on that, I think it would benefit the city. I mean, put a head in a bed and it benefits everybody,” she quips.
The notion that lesbians don’t have money is a misplaced one, she adds.
“I think that probably 10 or 15 years ago, that was probably true. But I think that we’ve all changed. We’ve got money. We spend money. We certainly travel,” Dolinko emphasizes, noting that a lot of women already come up to Vancouver, part of the reason for that being lesbians from Canada are also travelling a lot more and spending a lot more money when they do.
“I think opening up the communications [on] the West Coast is key, and the rest of the States for that matter,” she adds.
Stevenson says the motion has the support of his Vision Vancouver colleagues but “really can’t guess” what support he’ll get from Non-Partisan Alliance councillors and Mayor Sam Sullivan.
“[It’s] wait and see, and hoping that the people who come to speak, and others from the public will persuade them,” Stevenson says, urging the gay community to come to the meeting to support his motion.