gay-friendly travel, Fire Island, Key West, Provincetown
Chitose Suzuki/AP
A couple holds hands in Provincetown, Mass.

Niche Resort Towns Expand Their Tourist Base

August 15, 2008 06:57 AM
by Emily Coakley
Resort towns that historically catered to gay travelers are inviting others in.

‘All are welcome’

Depending on where you read the ad, Cape Cod’s Provincetown is an ecotourism destination, a bargain for European travelers or a haven for art galleries. But for many years, Provincetown was known as a place where gay travelers could safely and openly vacation, according to the Boston Globe.
The resort town is sending the message that there’s something for everyone, and tourists, gay and straight alike, have responded. But the influx of straight tourists has generated mixed reactions.

“It used to be that you could walk down the street holding hands with a man and you felt safe. Now you feel gawked at,” said Alan Robertson, a regular Provincetown visitor.

But another tourist told the Globe that Provincetown’s charm is that “everyone feels like they belong here.”

Provincetown isn’t alone in drawing more straight tourists. Key West has been getting more straight tourists as well, according to a 2005 New York Times piece. The Florida hotspot was the first to openly seek gay travelers, according to the Times. In recent years, some guesthouses that catered solely to one gender have begun to advertise “all welcome.”

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, another beach known for attracting gay tourists, has a slightly different story. Locals, who were by and large straight, at times resisted gay tourists, according to the Rehoboth Beach blog. But gay people have been flocking there from nearby Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia since the early 1980s, Rich Barnett wrote in 2005. Residents’ resistance was at times violent, but relationships got better over the years. Barnett didn’t want to speculate on the town’s future, but said gay and straight residents are now united against developers.

“Depending on who you talk to, developers are destroying Rehoboth’s character or they’re upgrading it. Does this debate sound familiar?” Barnett asked.

Related Topics: Campaign to promote gay tourism pulled in South Carolina

South Carolinians weren’t happy with the slogan “South Carolina is so gay,” and a campaign to promote that idea was pulled.

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