By Joey Chapman, GSBA Director of Membership and Programs
Travel OUT, a program of GSBA Washington States LGBTQ+ and Allied Chamber of Commerce, is an important initiative that promotes LGBTQ+ tourism in Seattle and throughout Washington state. This program aims to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ travelers. Travel OUT also promotes LGBTQ+ businesses in Washington, helping to increase visibility and support. This leads to increased revenue and growth for these businesses, which in turn benefits the local economy.
By encouraging LGBTQ+ tourism, GSBA strives to help in creating a safe environment for these individuals. LGBTQ+ travelers sometimes face discrimination and harassment while traveling, and promoting LGBTQ+ tourism can help to address these issues and create a more accepting environment.
It is unique for an LGBTQ+ chamber of commerce to support a tourism advisory board, showing a commitment to promoting LGBTQ+ tourism as a viable and important industry. By creating a tourism advisory board, GSBA is able to address advocacy issues and works to create a more welcoming and inclusive state.
The GSBA Tourism Advisory Board provides a valuable platform for networking and collaboration. This advisory board is made up of GSBA hospitality & tourism members, leading the charge in making the Greater Puget Sound Area and Washington State welcoming and safe. Meeting quarterly, the advisory board converses on topics specifically effecting their industry, and finding ways to better engage and support tourism in the PNW, through the eyes of our LGBTQ+ community. The current GSBA Tourism Advisory Board includes the following leaders:
David Blandford, Washington Tourism Alliance
Greg Campbell, W Seattle Hotel
Chad Christeson, Swire Coca-Cola
Randy Coté, Space Needle
Patti Denny, Port of Seattle
Phillip Fryer, Seattle Marriott Waterfront
Christy Garrard, Visit Issaqauh
Chantelle Lusebrink, Visit Bainbridge Island
John Rubino, GreenRubino
Britt Rynearson, Friends of Waterfront Seattle
Alison Scott, World Trade Center Seattle
Trudy Soriano, Snohomish County
Gary Szeredy, Queen Anne Beerhall
Felicity Wang, APAC World Travel
Travel OUT serves as a resource for LGBTQ+ travelers, providing information and guidance on LGBTQ+ friendly businesses, events, and attractions in the state. This program helps in creating a more positive and inclusive tourism experience for LGBTQ+ travelers, by supporting and training businesses, visitor centers, and other chambers the importance of inclusion. GSBA works to connect with these organizations by bringing Travel OUT Trainings to their communities. During these events, GSBA hosts roundtable discussions touching on entrepreneurial support, inclusive marketing (products, services and tourism), networking with neighbors, and participation in workplace LGBTQ+ Inclusion Training. All are welcome from the surrounding region GSBA may be travel training to; all businesses – LGBTQ+ and allies –warmly invited. In 2022, GSBA was welcomed to Kitsap County and the city of Issaquah. In 2023, GSBA continues to connect and convene through this program beginning in Skagit Valley.
Washington state is known for being a welcoming and embracing place for the LGBTQ+ community and allies. One of the first states to legalize same-sex marriage, it has a variety of legal protections in place for LGBTQ+ individuals, including anti-discrimination laws. Home to stunning natural landscapes, including mountains, forests, and beaches; and known for its arts and culture scene, makes Washington an ideal destination. Washington has a reputation for being an accepting and progressive state, which helps LGBTQ+ individuals and allies feel welcome and safe when visiting. Seattle, the largest city in Washington, has a vibrant LGBTQ+ community, specifically located on Capitol Hill, a historically known and vibrant queer neighborhood.
The GSBA website has a dedicated Travel OUT directory, highlighting GSBA Hospitality & Tourism members. This is a trusted source of GSBA Members dedicated to regional travel, allowing visitors to explore and discover our region, authentically as they come.