From hosting the biggest Pride celebration in the Caribbean to offering diversity training to the trade, Puerto Rico is making efforts to appeal to the LGBT+ market.
Puerto Rico is on a mission to position itself as the LGBT+ capital of the Caribbean.
At World Travel Market London last November, the destination revealed it will be leaning into the LGBT+ market in 2020, promoting itself as an inclusive option for travellers to the Caribbean.
“Inclusivity is really baked into our DNA,” says Leah Chandler, chief marketing officer at Discover Puerto Rico. “The Caribbean is not known for LGBTQ+ travel – some islands criminalise homosexuality – so, for us, it is really important to highlight how welcoming, open and inclusive Puerto Rico is.”
Chandler adds that Puerto Rico’s status as a US territory adds to its inclusive appeal.
“We want to communicate we are a good destination for this demographic because we are part of the United States. We have all the same equality laws and legal protections in place as they do, such as laws that protect same-sex marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples, as well as one of only two LGBTQ+ Chambers of Commerce in the Caribbean.”
The destination management organisation is ramping up marketing efforts to cater to the LGBT+ community over the coming year.
As well as working on partnerships with media and influencers to reach LGBT+ travellers, Discover Puerto Rico has recently provided tourism partners across the destination – including in hotels and tourist attractions – with inclusivity training to make them more sensitive to the lifestyles and needs of LGBT+ tourists, says Chandler.
“As part of our efforts, we are helping our tourism partners deliver the warmest welcome to LGBTQ+ travellers implementing the best practices in the industry. LGBTQ+ is an important component in our education training, as well as working with LGBTQ+ friendly tour operators to develop product,” she adds.
Chandler recommends agents sell the destination to LGBT+ clients by highlighting the diversity of product. “The Discover Puerto Rico website features a dedicated landing page with information about restaurants, hotels, bars and beaches catered towards this group, as well as an extensive LGBTQ+ content collection which stresses inclusion and diversity of product for the LGBTQ+ market.”
On the island, there are plenty of opportunities for LGBT+ clients to celebrate diversity and mingle with like-minded travellers.
Pride, arguably the most iconic celebration of LGBT+ life, is a big deal in Puerto Rico, says Chandler. “Puerto Rico hosts two main Pride events in June for Pride Month in Cabo Rojo and San Juan, and in December 2019 it celebrated its first ever Winter Pride, officially making it the largest Pride celebration in the Caribbean.”
Adding to the buzz around the event was the appearance of drag royalty Alyssa Edwards, a past contestant from American reality television series RuPaul’s Drag Race.
There’s also the Puerto Rico Queer Film Fest, which takes place annually in November at various cinemas and cultural venues in the capital of San Juan.
The week-long film festival has been running since 2009, screening LGBTQIA+ shorts and full-length films, both local and international.
Recommend clients also visit Dragas en el Vidy’s, a free, LGBT+-friendly show on the third Tuesday of each month featuring queens, kings, and gender-fluid performers, organised by local drag queen Anoma Lia.
To improve their knowledge, Chandler recommends agents get involved in the Thrive Connect Summit, which will be held from 30 September to 2 October 2020.
“The event is focused on community development through LGBTQ+ travel, sports and entertainment, so attending is a great opportunity for destinations, tour operators and travel agents,” she says.
The push towards profiling the destination’s LGBT+ credentials won’t end in 2020, either.
Chandler reveals: “We are planning to make a bid for the IGLTA (International LGBTQ+ Travel Association) Convention in 2022.”