GVB sees big opportunity in marketing Guam as same-sex marriage - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

GVB sees big opportunity in marketing Guam as same-sex marriage destination

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It's been over one year since gay marriage was legalized across the nation including here at home. And just as more than 100 same-sex marriage licenses have been issued on island, the Guam Visitors Bureau is also working to expand its market from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning community.

"I think it's one of the most equitable things we have done in term of civil rights," said James Gillan, director of the Guam Department of Public Health. And more than a year after a United States Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation, Gillan says the department has seen a healthy share of same-sex marriage licenses issued in the last 16 months. "I think that people who are in love, regardless of their sex, if they want to share their lives together, they should have the same rights and protections that anyone else has," he added.

As of October 7, 139 same-sex marriage licenses and certificates have been issued on island. The department issued the most marriage licenses to Guam residents with 67, followed by the Philippines with 12, Taiwan with 9, California with 6 and Hong Kong and the CNMI both with 5. Along with marriage licenses issued to residents from 20 different US states, there were also couples from Honduras, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Russia and the Netherlands.

This variety is a promising sign as efforts are underway by GVB to increase arrivals from the LGBTQ community internationally. GVB director of global marketing Pilar Laguana says the bureau is conducting key research and data collection, telling KUAM News, "Ever since the legalization of (gay) marriages have come into place, we have had an interest into looking into a market segment that will appeal to this type of audience."

GVB has been engaging with local organizations likes ISA Guam and Guam's Alternative Lifestyle Association (GALA) and recently became a member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) - the leading resource in the LGBT tourism industry for more than 30 years.

"And we did this primarily more to learn about the market segment of this LGBTQ community and how to best approach and market to a new market segment," said Laguana. "One of the things we have done is we're going to put together a particular collateral material, brochures or factsheets so people can learn how they can come to Guam and get married, and why, and what is appealing about our destination, because it is a very unique opportunity. We feel it's a marketing edge for us to appeal to a new type of visitor that our island can enjoy."

This LGTBQ marriage fact sheet will provide information about Guam, who can perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, and what professional wedding companies have experience in coordinating ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples. "In all our markets, the wedding and/or honeymoon market plays a very prominent role," she noted. "It is one of the leading forms of purposes for coming here."

Meanwhile, Laguana says as Guam's proximity is already a popular holiday destination, targeting this niche market to the LGBTQ community internationally is an exciting venture to move travel to Guam.

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