Toronto is, and will always be, one of the most welcoming, inclusive and progressive cities in the world. So much so that Lonely Planet named our destination, “one of the most gay-friendly places on the planet.”
Pride is a big deal for Toronto, and with good reason. Toronto is a place where the LGBTQ community has come together to continue to tackle the challenges that still exist, despite how far we have come. Pride Toronto, and many other organizations throughout the region, have fought for survival, rights and inclusivity, and Toronto is a better place because of it.
Now is the time for all of us in the tourism community to come together and show our own support for everyone in the LGBTQ community.
Last month, we had the honour of hosting the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association’s (IGLTA) Annual Global Convention. IGLTA is the world’s leading network of LGBTQ-welcoming tourism businesses. The conference brought together 500 tourism professionals from 40 countries – the most globally diverse conference in IGLTA’s history.
We last hosted IGLTA a decade ago. In that time, Toronto became the first North American city to host WorldPride (in 2014). The events surrounding WorldPride had an economic impact of $791 million. But WorldPride benefited Toronto in a way that extends well beyond its economic impact. The investments made by us and everyone in the industry to host WorldPride cemented and elevated Toronto as an elite destination for the LGBTQ community.
A big part of the Toronto story, and one that we showcase to the world including LGBTQ visitors, is our sense of inclusivity. Inclusivity is part of the Toronto story we tell because it’s a big part of what makes us Canada’s Downtown. It’s not just about being diverse, it’s about thriving because of that diversity.
That’s the message we have lived and breathed for a number of years now. You may have seen it in our Views Are Different Here campaign – featuring diverse genders, sexual identities and cultures.
Where you may not have seen it, is when we’re pitching the region to conferences and events enticing them to choose Toronto. Or when we’re promoting Toronto to our target overseas and U.S. markets.
The sense of welcome and inclusivity is our message across all platforms and markets. Gone are the days where we push that message just to the LGBTQ community. If we truly are as inclusive and welcoming as we say, then it has to be a message for everyone. And in a world that is increasingly challenging the idea of inclusivity, we get to stand proud of the fact that this is who we are. It’s simply part of our DNA.
On behalf of all of us at Tourism Toronto – happy Pride! For everyone in the LGBTQ community, thank you for making Toronto the place that it is today. Now let’s keep showing our pride, not only this month, but throughout the year.