The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Atlantic City courts gay tourism market, an important part of resort's growth strategy

  • Print

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Atlantic City is planning a series of events to attract gay tourists, who are becoming an increasingly important part of the resort's growth strategy.

Mayor Don Guardian and tourism officials said Monday the goal is to reinvigorate a once-thriving gay community in the New Jersey resort city.

"Atlantic City had its heyday with the gay population on New York Avenue," he said. "This is where you came when you wanted to have a good time. Straight people came to these places, too, because they wanted to party and dance in the hottest clubs."

But when casino gambling began in 1978, soaring land prices pushed out many small gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses.

Now, with the resort struggling to find a new identity and new sources of revenue, the city is once again wooing gay tourists with vigour.

Growing up gay, Guardian said the sight of a rainbow flag was a welcome sign that one's business was welcome and that it was a safe place to go if the person felt threatened by a situation.

Guardian said he hopes the thousands of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender visitors who come to Atlantic City will come away impressed this summer, and consider the resort as a place to buy a second home.

Events aimed at the gay community include Sand Blast, a 3-day beach party weekend in July targeted to the gay community; the StandOUT Expo, a networking event in September for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community, and the Miss'd America Pageant, a drag spoof of the famous pageant, also in September. Sand Blast will include a female beach volleyball tournament called "Lez Volley," an underwear party, and a "Drag Race" and purse-tossing competition.

The mayor also dedicated a gay-friendly beach in Atlantic City at Park Place near Bally's, but says the entire city is gay-friendly.

The resort is trying to broaden its appeal beyond a gambling mecca by emphasizing restaurants, shops, nightclubs, spas and other attractions.

The Atlantic City Alliance, which markets the resort, recently commissioned a study of the gay travel market in four other states in the region — New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.

It found that the primary reason gays visit Atlantic City is because it is easy to get to and has entertainment options. Only 21 per cent named gambling as a primary reason to visit.

About 15 per cent said they planned to spend $500 or more on gambling, with two thirds placing a $200 limit on their bets.

The survey also found that Atlantic City is not viewed as being especially gay-friendly, with only a quarter of respondents finding the destination somewhat or very friendly for lesbians, gays bisexuals and transsexuals. Among the eight Mid-Atlantic tourism destinations tested, Atlantic City scored lowest for a perception of being gay-friendly.

Brad Hurtado, executive producer of Sand Blast, said events like his are needed to make gays feel more at home in Atlantic City.

"Gay tourism and gay events transform communities, and they bring repeat visitors each year," Hurtado said.

___

Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

OT Glenn January and RB Nic Grigsby disappointed in loss to Riders

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A black swallowtail butterfly land on Lantana flowers Sunday morning at the Assiniboine Park English Gardens- standup photo – August 14, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 070619 LIGHTNING ILLUMINATES AN ABANDONED GRAIN ELEVATOR IN THE VILLAGE OF SANFORD ABOUT 10PM TUESDAY NIGHT AS A LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS PASSED NEAR WINNIPEG JUST TO THE NORTH OF THIS  SITE.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What do you think of the new Blue Bombers uniforms?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google