With New Inclusive Campaign, Fort Lauderdale Gets Sunny About LGBT Tourism

“We are the only destination in the world that is using trans people in mainstream marketing initiatives."

Greater Fort Lauderdale is letting the world know that everyone is welcome with a new LGBT-inclusive marketing campaign.

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A series of ads launched as part of the city’s ongoing “Hello, Sunny” campaign feature three transgender models, and it’s believed to be the first time trans models have been tapped to star in a mainstream tourism campaign.

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“Using trans models in our mainstream campaign says who we are as a destination,” said Richard Gray, the managing director of the LGBTQ market for the bureau. “Cosmopolitan, edgy, diverse, inclusive, authentic and accepting.”

The spots premiered with a billboard video in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, featuring Venezuelan model Isabella Santiago, and more ads and TV commercials are set to roll out this week.

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In one targeting gay men, two guys are seen drinking coffee at Alchemist in Wilton Manors, with the tag line, “Hello, daily grind.”

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Fort Lauderdale began marketing to the LGBT community back in 1996, and was the first visitors bureau with an LGBT-centric vacation planner and dedicated micro-site. This past fall, the city hosted the Southern Comfort Transgender Conference.

It’s estimated 1.5 million LGBT travelers visit Fort Lauderdale annually, bringing $1.5 billion to the city’s economy.

While Fort Lauderdale is considered a gay vacation mecca, there have been concerns about security, including a promoter threatening a Pulse-style attack against gays and the recent attack on Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Says Gray, “We want all travelers to Greater Fort Lauderdale to be free to be themselves, to be free to be accepted and, most of all, to be safe and respected.”

Adam Salandra is a writer and TV host in Los Angeles. When he's not covering the latest in pop culture, you can find him playing with his French Bulldog puppy or hovering over the table of food at any social gathering.
@adamsalandra