Last weekends Vancouver Pride festivities drew thousands of people to Vancouver thanks to the hard work by the staff and volunteers of the Vancouver Pride Society. The people who attended injected millions of dollars into the local economy in hotel stays, food and beverages, shopping, and more.
As a not-for-profit organization, the Vancouver Pride Society is strictly focused on producing free quality, inclusive events such as the Pride Parade and the Pride Festival events. The LGTB community has some of the highest disposable income of any demographic. This is a well known fact and Tourism Vancouver is not shy about going after the market. In fact, they have marketing campaigns specifically targeted to the LGTB community to come to the gay-friendly destination.
Ken Coolen, President of the Vancouver Pride Society admits there is a gap between the Society and a long-term LGBT tourism strategy. The Society does maintain relationships with Tourism Vancouver, and they do work collaboratively together, however, the Society is not driving the development of the niche market. This is left up to other organizations, some of which they work with at a distance.
The Vancouver Pride Society does work with global organizations including InterPride, Pro Pride, and the IGLTA. These organizations do not help build a sustainable tourism product for our destination.
So, who is promoting our destination other than Tourism Vancouver? Tourism British Columbia attempted to get into the business but pulled all their resources when the Olympics came along. It was the same story at the Canadian Tourism Commission, however, now that the Olympics are over, they are getting back on track and picking up some of the other markets that were dropped, including the LGBT leisure travel portfolio. The Vancouver Pride Society is not involved with either organization.
Many political parties showed up for the Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival events. When asked if the Federal Heritage Minister, Honourable James Moore, was personally invited to attend the celebrations, Coolen responded with, “No.” What’s the significance? Honourable Moore hands thousands of dollars each year to the Toronto Pride Society in grants to host their celebrations. This is a big missed opportunity for the Vancouver Pride Society. Although the Society technically does not meet all the qualifications to apply for the same grant as the Toronto Pride Society, they could be lobbying the Provincial and Federal governments for funding and support.