New Orleans tourism officials reach out to LGBT travelers

Posted on 05 Apr 2007 at 8:45pm
By Associated Press

New guidebook promotes activities popular with gay, lesbian travelers: Mardi Gras, Southern Decadence and Halloween

NEW ORLEANS Tourism officials still trying to lure leisure visitors back to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina have put together a guidebook aimed at gay and lesbian travelers.

New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corp. and the Philadelphia-based advertising agency The Altus Group plan to release the 30-page New Orleans City Navigator in late May at the start of the normally slow summer tourist season.

“This is very exciting for us,” said Sandy Shilstone, chief executive of the Tourism and Marketing Corp., a not-for-profit group that promotes leisure travel in New Orleans.

The guide will promote activities popular with gay and lesbian travelers, such as Mardi Gras, Southern Decadence and Halloween, as well as the usual museums and restaurants, said Ellen Kempner, vice president and management supervisor at Peter A. Mayer advertising, which is managing the project.

Kempner said she did not know how much the promotion would cost.

“We try to pick up where the mainstream travel guides leave off,” said Bill Gehrman, associate publisher of the guide. “We’ll talk about the fantastic food, the music tradition, and give family-friendly suggestions. But we’ll also talk about gay history.”

Gehrman said the guide will also feature the city’s gay-friendly bars, bookstores and community centers.

It’s the first time the corporation has created an entire guidebook marketing the city to a niche group.

“Outside of the big general visitors guide nothing has been done at this scope,” Kempner said.

The tourism and marketing corporation had planned to create a guide targeted to the gay community in 2005, but plans were put on hold after Katrina. Before Katrina, leisure tourists made up more than 70 percent of the more than 10 million yearly visitors to the city. Though there are no comparable figures for 2005 and 2006, tourism officials say the number has fallen.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 6, 2007

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