Yeah, it’s been a wacky winter, but as spring comes, it’s time to get out in the state. And “out” is the operative word at the Connecticut Office of Tourism. The organization has been significantly increasing its efforts to attract LGBTQ+ travelers—and to communicate to everyone in state how welcoming it is.
“Positioning LGBTQ people at the forefront of our efforts welcomes visitors from all walks of life,” says Noelle P. Stevenson, state tourism director. “It’s part of our DNA that everyone should feel welcome.” She adds that inclusion is a year-round effort, too, noting, “We’re not just about raising flags in June, we celebrate the community and diversity all year long.”
Coming out of the pandemic, Stevenson says people are eager to travel, and they’re eager to find places that are welcoming. And there sure are a lot of them.
From Pride celebrations around the state to drag shows to music and arts festivals, to what Stevenson calls “adrenaline” activities such as skiing, hiking, rock climbing and so forth, her job is to ensure that everyone everywhere knows that whomever they love and whatever their family looks like, they will feel at home in the state.
Stevenson adds that in recent months, she’s been attending travel and trade shows and has been impressed to hear how people in the travel industry are seeing Connecticut as a destination, as well.
Stevenson and her team have been hard at work, and they anticipate that people and businesses throughout the state will see positive results. For example, Connecticut became the first state to join the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association at the global partner level, an organization designed to support LGBTQ+ travel and tourism—and at the same time underscoring the social and economic impact of these communities.
In addition, the Office of Tourism is blowing their own horn with a new multi-million-dollar campaign called “Find Your Vibe,” which highlights the state’s culture and focuses on LGBTQ+ events and locations. And, of course, they are going all out to promote the many Pride events around the state.
You can find all of this and much more at the Office’s newly updated website, CTVisit.com. They’ve devoted an entire section to venues, events, and more targeted to the LGBTQ+ community.
While Stevenson says that their work is “aggressively local,” trying to inform state residents about the many outstanding options available, Connecticut is becoming an international destination as well. She points to the resumption of Aer Lingus flights to Bradley direct from Dublin, which began last November, and will facilitate people coming from all over Europe.
All of this is good news as we are emerging, at least somewhat, from the pandemic, and people are eager to travel more. Stevenson is encouraged, saying “Whether or not to travel is not even part of the conversation any more. People are going.” They are indeed. Late in 2022, the state saw a 15 percent rise in tourism, the largest of any state coming out of the pandemic, and all indications are that the numbers will keep growing, adding billions (With a “B”) to the economy, to say nothing of creating great experiences and memories.
In our next issue, we’ll highlight Pride and many more summer events. In the meantime, check out CTVisit.com, and then, get out.