BTA on Pride: the message went out
Bermuda’s first gay Pride parade could reinforce the island’s reputation as a friendly destination for LGBT travellers, the Bermuda Tourism Authority said yesterday.
Kevin Dallas, the BTA CEO, said it was too early to tell how many visitors came to the island for this year’s event.
He added the social media attention sparked by the massive event could only paint the island in a positive light. Mr Dallas said: “We have heard there were a number of visitors who took part in the parade and it seems they enjoyed themselves.
“And, importantly, the message that went out on social media was overwhelmingly welcoming and inclusive, which is really the message that we want to be sending.”
Mr Dallas added: “In future years, we will see how, and if, the event will bring visitors, but it’s clear when you look around the world, these are events that people travel for.
“People travel not just for these events, but to places where they know they are welcomed.
“One thing that we know is, in the past couple of years, Bermuda has moved an extremely long way. The reality on the ground is there is a lot more positive reaction to the island on social media than we had last year.”
Mr Dallas said that he was unable to say how many tourists had travelled to the island for the event.
He said: “It takes a couple of days to get all of the definitive figures from the airport and Labour Day is traditionally a big weekend for us.
“There were also a huge number of events going on, including Pride, which could have an impact.”
More than 5,000 people marched during the event on Saturday morning.
The crowd at one stage filled Front Street from the Cabinet Office to the Bird Cage.
George Takei, who played Sulu in the long-running sci-fi series Star Trek and who is an LGBT activist, highlighted the event to his 2.9 million followers on social media.
He told his followers on Twitter: “While a bunch of trolls held a ‘straight pride parade’ in Boston, brave members of the LGBT community in Bermuda held their first Pride parade under threats of violence. That’s what Pride truly means.”
The post was retweeted more than 400 times and liked by more than 2,400 Twitter users.
Glenn Jones, the chief experience development officer for the BTA, helped man a BTA water stop for marchers outside the Visitor Service Centre opposite the Bird Cage.
He said: “The first Bermuda Pride Parade was a dynamic event that demonstrated Bermuda’s increasing diversity and inclusivity — qualities our target visitors seek. It was heartening to see visitors turn out to participate alongside local residents in what we hope will become an annual calendar highlight for our island.”
Mr Jones added that the event was just one of several supported by the BTA over the holiday long weekend.
He said: “The BTA also supported and promoted numerous other events — from the Urban Culture Exchange to the Eastern County cricket match in St David’s to the Sand Castle Competition at Horseshoe Bay.
“Curated beach dinners, raft-ups, the traditional Labour Day march and a vintage auto and motorcycle show were further highlights.
“We believe there’s immense opportunity to showcase all these activities to visitors as a great, combined reason to choose Bermuda for an end-of-summer getaway.”
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