SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Now that Illinois allows civil unions for unmarried couples, and other states are allowing same-sex couples to get married, Illinois tourism officials are trying to market the state to the gay and lesbian community.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports, a new portion of the state’s tourism Web site, called Pride Illinois, has collected information about gay-friendly lodging and attractions, as well as links to information about pride festivals and other LGBT resources.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl reports
Illinois Office of Tourism director Jan Kostner says research indicates the LGBT community has disposable income.
“In a study conducted by OutNow Global, (LGBT) travelers spend an average of about $1,974 on leisure travel over the past year, and it’s a community that we want to know that they’re welcome,” she said.
Kostner says there is quite a bit of tourism information available that is specific to gay and lesbian travelers.
“There are some definite sights and things that people do that is non-specific to any interests that people would like to do, like the museums,” Kostner said. “But there are other things that may be specific, too. They’re also called TAG-approved accommodations throughout Illinois. There are properties that enforce their non-discrimination policies.”
Most of the events promoted on the front page of the site are in Chicago, but not all. The events include the Chicago Pride Fest – a lively street festival that takes place on Halsted Street in Boystown the day before the Gay Pride Parade – and Market Days, the August fair on Halsted Street that is billed as the largest two-day street fair in the Midwest.
The site also promotes Pride Day at Wrigley Field, a charitable event in early September in which the sale of Cubs tickets benefits six local LGBT and HIV/AIDS charities, and the Reeling Film Festival – the Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival held every September.
A downstate event also makes the front page. The Springfield Pride Festival – which features a “Drag Race” of the female impersonator variety – is held in May each year.
Also included on the page are information about civil unions, and links to gay rights organizations, publications and other information.
A California company called Community Marketing has set up some guidelines for approved LGBT-friendly businesses. A link to that information is also on the Pride Illinois site.