Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fort Lauderdale Tourist Industry Tells Mayor To Shut Up

I truly hope the gay community will use its buying power to punish Ft. Lauderdale sufficiently to (1) cause Naugle's removal and (2) send a huge message to other destinations that bigotry has a very real cost. Nothing gets attention better than hitting folks in their pocket book. Here's a portion of 365gay's take on the matter:
(Fort Lauderdale, Florida) Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle was defiant Thursday as the city's tourist board castigated him for a series of attacks on gays. Nikki Grossman, the president of the Greater Ft. Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau said the mayor is endangering the county's biggest business - tourism - and damaging the area's reputation worldwide. Grossman told the mayor at the bureau's Thursday meeting that he is making Fort Lauderdale look close-minded and unwelcoming.

"The damage has been done to the destination," Grossman told Naugle. "We need to get back to work fixing it. The rhetoric needs to stop and the anger, the mischaracterizations and the hurtful mean-spirited rhetoric has to stop." Although no specific boycott of Fort Lauderdale by gays has been called several hotels and resorts that have a mainly gay clientele say they have contacted by guests who regularly stay with them to say they will not be coming back as long as Naugle is in office.

Fort Lauderdale ranked No. 6 among gay travelers last year, and accounted for about 11 percent of Broward's $8.5 billion tourism industry. So concerned is the tourism industry over the potential fallout the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau is using paid media watchers in New York and Europe to see how far the story is spreading.

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