Strengthening Canada’s Inclusive Destination Status

A new initiative is building on last spring’s successful series of LGBT+ Inclusion Training workshops, conducted by CGLCC, Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Tourism HR Canada.

Thanks to funding from the Government of Canada’s Canadian Experiences Fund, this recently launched project supports Canadian tourism businesses as they seek to ensure their operations are open and welcoming to all travellers and workers.

Valued at US$200 billion, LGBT+ tourism is an opportunity for economic development with great potential for profitable, long-term products and services. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) states that LGBT+ travellers are recognized as travelling with greater frequency and with higher-than-average spending. Businesses have the opportunity to diversify and expand product and service offerings, and the option of extending seasons or creating new experiences.

The first inclusion workshops took place last month in interior British Columbia. The timing of the project kick-off was essential to reach mountain towns prior to their peak ski season.

The Golden area hosted one of these first sessions. CGLCC facilitated an inclusion workshop for owner-operators, management, and frontline staff of activity-based and accommodations businesses. Topics included:

  • Why safe space is important in the workplace and what it looks like
  • The internal and external benefits of LGBT+ inclusive space
  • New strategies when interacting with LGBT+ employees and customers
  • An opportunity to put new concepts and learning into practice

An additional component saw a local tourism stakeholder trained a new facilitator. The Train the Trainer component is intended to familiarize new CGLCC facilitators on the inclusion workshop content, in locations across Canada. CGLCC is based in Toronto, so having facilitators based across Canada is essential to the economic sustainability of these inclusion workshops.

Joanne Sweeting, Executive Director of Tourism Golden, pursued her region’s participation in this project after a local business brought the workshops to her attention. She stated that the facilitator training allows for a locally based resource that is affordable and accessible for small regional destinations. Her plan will be to host at least one inclusion workshop every year for business stakeholders in the Golden area, timing it to include seasonal staff.

“As the DMO, we will focus on education and assisting our businesses to develop Golden into a welcoming and inclusive destination, which at the moment is in the early stages,” she explains. “In preparation for the time when we can truly promote Golden as an inclusive destination directly to the LGBT+ market, Tourism Golden will begin to work on creating image, video and branding assets that speak to diversity. When we are product-ready we will begin actively marketing to the LGBT+ travel market segment to raise awareness and visitation in line with our overall organisational goals.”

She adds, “As an employer, our recruitment, training, employee handbook and workplace practices are already in place. We will, however, lead by making that inclusivity more obvious with things like rainbow stickers at the visitor centre and offices.”

CGLCC and Tourism HR Canada will be offering this workshop across Canada over the coming months. If your tourism business or Destination Marketing Organization would like to be a part of this project or would like more information, please contact justin@cglcc.ca.