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Toronto to host conference on gay tourism Add to ...

Toronto will host Canada's first gay-tourism conference in November, as industry professionals and analysts gather to discuss marketing the country to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered tourists.

Tourist industry professionals from across North America will gather Nov. 5 in downtown Toronto to address the finer points of marketing to gay tourists, with panel discussions ranging from "Positioning Canada as a unique destination" to "Actually, there is no 'gay market'!" Representatives from the Vancouver Olympics organizing community and Gay Whistler are slated to give a talk on "The gayest games of them all."

The concept of gay tourism is nothing new in Canada: Cities have endeavoured to market themselves as tolerant, accessible and metropolitan destinations, aided both by large-scale Pride parades in Toronto and Vancouver and the legality of gay marriage drawing couples from the United States and elsewhere.

It's a market Tourism Toronto has been aggressively trying to corner since the arrival of its president, David Whitaker, from Miami in 2007. And it's a lucrative one: Travel Gay Canada - an industry organization that aims to create "increased visibility, opportunities, and programs for its members to maximize revenues through LGBT tourism" - estimates that the market is worth about $70-billion.

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