The CVB is Richard Gray’s baby. He said so in a telephone conversation with the Mirror Magazine last week.
The Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has many functions, Gray said. He should know. Gray is the vice president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB and leads its world renowned LGBT department. The budget for marketing and promoting to LGBT travelers is over $1 million.
The CVB’s mission, Gray said, is to “bring business to Fort Lauderdale.”
“Fort Lauderdale is one of the few places the gay community is holding its own,” Gray said.
Gray travels globally on behalf the CVB and knows where to travel and where not to travel. He was recently in Portland, Oregon, while another trip took him to the Middle East aboard Emirates airlines.
“The LGBT community in Fort Lauderdale is thriving,” Gray said.
Although he said the trend appears to be “fewer and fewer gay bars,” greater Fort Lauderdale is still attracting a large number of gay tourists.
Gray launched his LGBT bureau in 1996. The CVB, Gray said, is primarily funded through bed taxes collected by the Broward County government. Broward County, Gray said, is one of the few “majority, minority” counties in America. There are more African American and Hispanic than white households in Broward County, Gray said.
“Over 100 languages are spoken here,” Gray said.
One of the successes of the CVB is its annual Southern Comfort Transgender Conference, returning this September. The conference further proves Gray’s point of greater Fort Lauderdale being a welcoming destination to all.
“We want all travelers to feel welcome and comfortable here,” Gray said. “It’s like an oasis in a really conservative state.”
Transgender travelers can find more information about the conference at www.sunny.org/tlgb