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Thursday 29 September 2016

Say 'I do' in Ireland: Tourism Ireland targets LGBT visitors with 'dreamily romantic' weddings

Saying yes to tourism

Published 25/05/2015 | 16:14

Senator Katherine Zappone and partner Ann Louise Gilligan celebrate the Yes vote after the referendum on same sex marriage. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images
Senator Katherine Zappone and partner Ann Louise Gilligan celebrate the Yes vote after the referendum on same sex marriage. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Getty Images

It may be September before same-sex marriage can take place in Ireland, but tourism chiefs have lost little time inviting LGBT couples to celebrate their weddings here.

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Tourism Ireland unveiled its new campaign – “Ireland says I do” – just a day after the historic marriage referendum was carried.

On Saturday, Ireland became the first country in the world to introduce same sex marriage by popular vote, with 62.1pc of people voting Yes.

A day later, Tourism Ireland's campaign began highlighting “dreamily romantic locations to tie the knot” and honeymoon on the island.

The campaign is being targeted at members of the LGBT community in nine overseas markets including Britain, the United States, Canada, the Nordic region, Australia, France, Spain, Italy and Germany.

It focuses on Facebook, Ireland.com and a new video showcasing The Outing (below), the world’s first-ever LGBT matchmaking festival, an offshoot of the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, which takes place in October.

"The Yes vote absolutely will have a positive impact on tourism," Brian Finnegan, Editor of Gay Community News magazine, told Independent.ie Travel.

"In cities like San Francisco, Sydney or Berlin there is a sense of equality. People feel safe to be openly gay and express affection in public. The vote de-stigmatises... and that is bound to have a strong effect."

Many gay couples from Ireland have travelled to Spain, Canada and New York City to get married, he adds.

"So why shouldn't LGBT visitors come to Ireland for the same reason?"

Research unveiled at World Travel Market 2014 showed the annual spend on travel by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people exceeded USD$200 billion (€181bn) for the first time in 2014.

The fact that Ireland has become the first place in the world to introduce same sex marriage by popular vote could also be a reason in itself to visit, Finnegan adds.

"This sends a message that Ireland is a leader in terms of equality, respect and human dignity. The photos from the day of celebration portray Ireland as a wonderfully colourful and exciting country.

"Why shouldn't that attract people to visit?"

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