Six writers from around the world will visit Dallas and Fort Worth to see what’s unique about North Texas
Six gay travel writers from the United States, South America and Europe arrive in Dallas this week for the 11th annual Dallas International LGBT Travel Writers press tour. Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman puts the tour together each year, along with the Dallas and Fort Worth convention and visitor bureaus. He said that while it’s difficult to come up with a concrete dollar value to the city’s income from tourism, the hotels, airlines, restaurants and other sponsors have been satisfied enough that they continue to participate.
“We’ve had more coverage than any of the other specialty trips according to the CVB,” Doughman said. “We average two stories per writer.”
Based on the value of a printed page, stories printed as a result of last year’s tour generated the equivalent of $150,000 in publicity.
Based on number of hits through social media, the publicity is even greater, Doughman said.
How that translates into LGBT visits to Dallas is hard to calculate. Doughman said leisure travelers don’t declare that they’re LGBT tourists, and airlines and hotels have no way to count them. But he said store owners and bartenders on Cedar Springs Road frequently hear comments from people who say they’re from out of town and had read a story about Oak Lawn.
Doughman said the writers are looking for what’s unique. One year, he took them to one of the city’s finest restaurants, but they wrote about their stop at the original Dickey’s Barbecue. Fort Worth has three excellent art museums, but it’s the Cowgirl Museum that interests the writers.
That’s why this year the Wildcatter Ranch remains on the itinerary. Located in Graham, located about an hour and a half west of Fort Worth, the writers have the opportunity to go horseback riding and take a roping lesson with some time left for skeet shooting before sitting on a rocking chair on the lodge’s porch and watching the sun set behind the mountains of West Texas. The western theme of that portion on their trip to North Texas is rounded out the next day with a stop to the Fort Worth Stockyards.
The Dallas component of the trip includes a tour of the Arts District with lunch from a food truck parked at the Deck Park. The writers get to experience Cedar Springs nightlife beginning with dinner at Hunky’s. An afternoon visit to the Katy Trail includes a stop at the Ice House, and Hattie’s in Bishop Arts hosts the group for dinner as they explore that other gay neighborhood.
Frank Librio with the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau said the return on investment for journalism trips is high.
“Dallas is a top U.S. destination for LGBT leisure and business travel,” Librio said. “If a writer hasn’t been to Dallas recently, they’ll be surprised by some of our new assets.”
He said he looks forward to showing off Trinity Groves, the Arts District and the Calatrava bridge to writers who haven’t been to Dallas for awhile and writers coming for the first time who are always surprised at how cosmopolitan the city is.
Among those participating on the tour is Portland-based travel writer Andrew Collins who has contributed to Dallas Voice for more than a decade, so we may just get to read about one of the writer’s impressions right here on our own pages.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 25, 2014.