TORONTO - Toronto is host to WorldPride 2014 but there are communities across Ontario, including Port Hope, that are rolling out the red carpet to gay tourists, according to the Discover Gay Ontario travel guide.
Take a walk downtown Port Hope and you’ll see vibrant window displays, mannequins dressed in red, orange, yellow, green, blue or purple clothes.
All colours of the rainbow in honour of WorldPride.
“We’re a gay friendly town, we’re a friendly town for everyone. So I knew this would be the perfect place to have visitors come from all over the world,” Andrea Patterson, the tourism coordinator for Port Hope said.
Top 10 destinations, according to Discover Gay Ontario:
1. Niagara Falls
2. St. Catharines
3. Twenty Valley
5. Prince Edward County
7. 1000 Islands & Gananoque
8. Port Hope
9. Muskoka Lakes
John Bowes is a marketing manager for Travel Gay Canada and partially responsible for publishing Discover Gay Ontario. He says he wants to highlight accepting and safe places for the LGBT traveller.
“Our most recent research campaign with consumers across Canada, what we found is that the number one thing is safety and security and that’s feeling accepted in the community,” says Bowes.
Business owners say there is a misconception that small towns are not progressive or accepting. Being featured in a publication that like Discover Gay Ontario helps dispel that.
“You think of Toronto and you think of big cities because they’re so multi-cultural and they’re all inclusive… But little towns like port hope are just as welcoming,” Grave Lovekin, business owner and Chair of the Business Improvement Association in Port Hope said.
Richard Cadoret, Owner of GLAM Vintage & Modern in Port Hope said Ontario’s diversity can be found in small town as well.
“It shows people travelling to Canada that our respect for diversity is not just focused in city centres,” Cadoret says.
And showcasing his small town is working.
“The streets have been a lot busier this week with tourists from all over Canada as well as other parts of the world,” he says. “Just checking out the downtown area, the shops, the restaurants.”