Saturday, January 31, 2009

Trend setters, once again.

Gays, lesbians set tourism pace

Studies find it's the first travel market to rebound after economic downturns

It was one of the first travel markets to rebound after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the first to emerge from the spectre of SARS in the Toronto area.

Now the gay and lesbian travel market is poised to be the first to bounce back after the economic downturn, according to the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

The Toronto-based chamber is collecting information from various destinations to gauge the effect of the downturn on the community.

But past experience tells chamber founder Bruce McDonald the gay and lesbian market is unlikely to be put off by the economic malaise.

"It tends to be a market that is somewhat insulated to outside factors and that is probably based on the basics of the market -- a higher disposable income.

"During a downturn in the economy, if you have two employed partners earning a living and they don't have children they might cut back a bit but they will still have more disposable income than the mainstream market."

Indeed, a study published by the chamber in 2007 showed gay and lesbian travellers spent $1,166 per trip, nearly twice what the typical straight traveller spent.

The market, believed to be 1.8 million strong in Canada, spends about $9.5 billion on travel annually -- $5.4 billion in Canada, $2.4 billion in the U.S. and $1.7 billion elsewhere.

And Victoria is well positioned to take advantage of that willingness to travel despite economic uncertainty.

"Tourism Victoria has been really active at it and so has Tourism B.C.," said hospitality-industry consultant Frank Bourree of Chemistry Consulting, noting both destination marketing organizations have been actively courting the market for years.

It seems to have paid off -- Bourree notes Victoria has been included in a list of cities, including San Francisco, Montreal and Vancouver, deemed to be gay-and-lesbian friendly.

"Only particular destinations are effective at attracting that group," he said. "It's down to friendliness, a mix of activities and acceptance of the lifestyle."

Victoria was ranked the No. 4 gay leisure-travel destination in Canada in 2007, according to a survey conducted by Community Marketing Inc., a San Francisco-based market research company that specializes in the gay and lesbian market. Vancouver was No. 1, followed by Montreal and Toronto.

Tourism Victoria has spent about $36,000, worked with tour operators and attended conferences to attract the gay and lesbian market to the Island.

This year, the marketing budget devoted to that sector is $15,000, most of which will be spent within B.C.

But none of that sits well with one former Tourism Victoria member.

David Carlos, owner of Royal Pacific Charters and Suites, cancelled his membership over the decision to market to the gay community.

Carlos, who describes himself as a Christian conservative, objected to Tourism Victoria's advertising campaign, which he said suggests the whole city embraces the lifestyle.

"It's not true, we're not all for it," said Carlos. "I don't think there's a lot of people in the business community that are willing to speak up about it because they don't want to negatively impact their businesses.

"Yes, there are some gay-friendly hotels, but Tourism Victoria has really made us all out to be gay friendly. There are those of us with conservative Christian values that think it is an abomination."

Asked if he feared his views could hurt his business, Carlos said some things are more important than money.

"I believe it could [hurt business]," he said.

Carlos also said he felt pushed out of Tourism Victoria by a lack of respect for his religious views.

"Shouldn't it be a neutral environment and not have these political issues in there?" he asked.

Tourism Victoria does not see the lesbian and gay market as a political issue, however.

"To us, it's a sector like any other, like golf, culinary tourism or arts, culture and entertainment," said Tourism Victoria CEO Rob Gialloreto. "We are a marketing organization and we are here to offer the destination to a whole bunch of different sectors. We look at every segment for its potential to bring people to this destination.

"We have over 970 members and we do our best to service that membership, but at the end of the day, it's a business and that's what our bottom line is."

Gialloreto said the gay and lesbian community is by no means a dominant segment of the target market, but has been identified as a market the membership wants to go after.

It appears to be working, as traffic to the "Pride" pages dedicated to the lesbian and gay market on Tourism Victoria's website doubled from 2007 to 2008.

Margaret Lucas is certainly not complaining.

The general manager of the Hotel Rialto -- formerly the Douglas Hotel -- said the hotel has attracted a "tremendous amount" of business from that segment of the market.

"They are fabulous travellers and it is a very lucrative segment of the travel market," she said, noting she sees it simply as another group to attract to the city. "We have a seniors market, a family market, the gay and lesbian market and the outdoor recreation market. I just see it as a very specific group of travellers."

Forget the caffiene...

I saw this quote on another blog and could not resist posting, with a photo of our local establishment in Sooke. AND their lemon bars are to DIE for! I e-mailed them for the recipe but was informed that it is a closely guarded corporate secret. Well, I'll just have to eat a few more to figure out the recipe. And don't think I can't do it either, because I will!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Let's just get over this, eh?

"HAVANA – Raul Castro says Barack Obama seems like a good guy, and his brother Fidel says no one can doubt his sincerity. The new U.S. president wants to sit down and negotiate, and is in a better position to do so than any other since Eisenhower.

But making up is hard to do. To restore relations and end the U.S. embargo, Obama would have to drop demands for democracy on the island, or Cuba would have to accept them — both unlikely scenarios."

OK, here are my thoughts on the US and Cuba. Drop the embargo and let's just get on with life! The US makes such a big deal out of Cuba being communist but where does the US stand with China? Hmmmm.....China is COMMUNIST yet is labeled a preferred trading partner. The US buys, or bought, BILLIONS of dollars of goods, some bad, from China yet nothing from Cuba. US citizens can travel to China, but not Cuba? Those tourist dollars would go a hell of a long way in Cuba although I don't know how many babies you can "adopt" in Cuba like you can in China.

One of my dreams, now living in Canada, is to be able to travel to Cuba and learn about their culture. And I know the money I would spend there would go a long way toward helping people out. I hope President Obama will correct the US policy and allow travel and trade with Cuba. That doesn't make me a communist, just a person with a conscience.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009


This article was online today and I found it rather interesting. I'm sure they will get some flack over this but not nearly as much as I imagine would happen in the US. This shows me, once again, that people in Canada tend to be much more open to things than I found in the US. We all have to live together, right?

Atheist transit ads proposed for Toronto could roll into other Canadian cities


TORONTO - The eyes of atheist and humanist groups across Canada are on Toronto, where a group is proposing to plaster ads that question the existence of God on the city's transit buses.

The Toronto-based Freethought Association of Canada wants to buy bus ads that say: "There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

The message comes from a campaign recently rolled out in the United Kingdom, sparking similar campaigns in Washington, D.C. and the Spanish cities of Barcelona and Madrid.

Atheist groups in Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver are keeping a close watch on Toronto's efforts.

"We're going to see how that flies," said Cliff Erasmus, co-ordinator for the Center for Inquiry in the Calgary area.

Atheist, humanists and agnostics should have the same opportunities to voice their opinions as people of faith, without discrimination, Erasmus said.

There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to be an atheist, he added.

"For some reason, we're labelled as devil worshippers and all sorts of nasty stuff," he said.

Those misconceptions are part of the reason for the campaign, said Katie Kish of the Freethought Association.

"So often you see (atheists) portrayed as kind of gloomy and angry. We really wanted to counter that stereotype," said Kish.

The other goal, said Kish, is opening a dialogue with religious groups.

"I think discussion is really important and that's what I'm hoping will happen from this campaign."

A spokesman for the Montreal chapter of the Center for Inquiry said there could be conversations about Toronto's concept if it works well.

For Guillaume Loignon, the ads would provide an alternative for non-believers in Montreal since there are numerous publicity campaigns run by religious organizations in Quebec.

At least one faith group appears to be open to the ads.

"If it helps to foster dialogue in our society, that might actually be a good thing," Rev. Susan Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, said in an interview from Winnipeg.

The British brainchild behind the ads says she's pleased that the message could soon spread to Canada.

"As long as it's a peaceful campaign," Ariane Sherine said from London.

Sherine started the campaign after noticing ads on London buses that led curious readers to a website that suggested non-Christians would spend eternity in hell.

Initially, Sherine hoped to raise enough money to post ads on 30 buses in London. The campaign received enough donations to buy ads on 800 buses across the U.K.

In Toronto, the group has launched, a website through which they hope to collect between $6,000 and $7,000 to purchase the bus ads. Hours after it was set up Friday, the group had received $6,800, according to its website.

The ad has been submitted for approval to CBS Outdoor, the firm that handles advertising for the Toronto Transit Commission, said Kish.

Though they've settled on the message for the campaign - it's identical to the slogan used in the U.K. - the actual layout is still being worked out. They want "something happy, something bright," Kish said.

If approved, the month-long campaign would start in the spring.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


The weather the last few days has been nothing short of spectacular! Sunny with warm temps, a far cry from the winter scene that blanketed us around Christmas.

Today = 63F/17C and glorious sunshine. The sun is glinting off the water in an ever changing sparkling pattern, like a white halogen light shining on a field of loose diamonds spread out on a sheet of turquoise blue velvet.

I washed some windows, picked up after the dog and am getting ready to cut some grass. Yes, cut grass, in JANUARY!!! NEVER in my 48 years have I cut grass in January!! But there are sections, where the dog goes, that I suppose have been growing all year, and now she doesn't want long shaggy grass tickling her butt. LOL! After that I may wash my car. The forecast for the next few days is more of the same. Oh, and I had to change into shorts and a t-shirt because I was too warm washing the windows!

I'm sure we are not done with winter and am expecting more cold and rain at some point. In the meantime I am sure going to enjoy this Spring-like respite we have received. It is days like this that make the occasional power outage tolerable. If you are thinking of moving to Canada you certainly have to check out southern Vancouver Island. You can't go wrong with this location!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Much better...

Well, the weather has taken a turn for the better, that's for sure. Today was around 50 degrees and sunny with a gorgeous colorful sunset. Or should I say - sunny when I got home. It was complete cloud coverage at work, in Metchosin, but sunny blue skies 25 minutes away in Sooke. Wonderful! I did some organizing in the greenhouse, added to and stirred the compost pile and did a little work in the gardens. I did see some Spring bulbs popping up, which for me is unheard of in January! At least in WI, where we moved from. Living on Vancouver Island is proving to be a very nice choice for us. People are so friendly, there was very little culture shock for us, having come from the US, and we still have the lowest unemployment rate in Canada!

Years ago I never could have imagined that my life would turn out this well. You just never know what is around the corner, eh?

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Well, things are back to normal in the weather department. The rain has subsided, I was able to get to work last Friday, finally, and the power has been back on for a few days. Life, once again, is good.

Actually, it was warm enough today that I washed my car! It was foggy all day, with a very light mist in the air, but that did not deter me from my task. My car has now gone from brown to the original Aquamarine. I'm quite happy about that. Dixon washed his car on Saturday so the inside of the garage is looking all sparkly with those two clean cars. We know it won't last but they were SO dirty it was getting to us big time. Afterward we took time to take stock of the gardens and explore the lower half of the yard. No flowers in the garden, yet, but there are so many shades of green and yellow foliage that it really is looking pretty colorful. The heather are just starting to bloom so our resident hummingbirds should have another food source quite soon.

Early in the day we managed to get into Victoria for some light shopping and, even with the fog/mist, it really was a very nice day. And I can tell that the days are getting longer. Time to do some seed shopping online and start planning for additions to the gardens this Spring. AND we have someone coming over this week to - HOPEFULLY - get the greenhouse electric hooked up! WOO HOO!

French Toast for supper tonight! Life sure is looking good lately!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cut off!

We have two choices, as far as getting to work, and both are flooded this morning! One road has two feet of water on it, hence the "Road Subject to Flooding" signs, and the other route has also been closed due to flooding. This leave NO option for us, or thousands of others, for getting to Victoria. I just spoke to a co-worker who lives out our way and another section of East Sooke Road is almost impassable due to a "river of water" coming off a hill and heading to the shoreline of Sooke Basin. Oy!

And the rain/wind continues...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I am NOT a good swimmer!

"53 degrees with light rain." So says the online weather for Victoria at 10:16pm on Tuesday. Whatever! It might be that warm but "light rain"? I don't think so! More like BUCKETS of rain - ALL DAY! For like 12 hours! It serenaded me at work as it hammered the roof just above my head. It challenged the high setting of my windshield wipers on the drive home. It drenched me as I cleared the drainage ditch along our drive, so the water wouldn't wash across the road and down to the sweet neighbors below that babysat my car for a week. It pummeled the dog as she tried to do her business. It continues to swirl around the house, whipped into a frenzy by the angry ocean wind that roars with a mighty voice. And this is our forecast for another day or two. The only saving grace is that it IS 53 degrees and this ain't snow. Thanks God!

If you are contemplating a move to The Island bring snow shovels (you never know when you might need them) and be ready for Winter rain too. Seattle, eat your heart out!

Now I have to go scare the cat out of the spare bedroom so she doesn't get into any mischief. Here, kitty kitty....

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Well, it's 2009 and here we go! I hope it brings more stability to the world, and my life.

I closed out 2008 on a very relaxed note. I was glad to finally be working, happy that we have a roof over our heads, food in the house and regular paychecks coming in. Those might seem pretty basic but in these uncertain economic times I have started to view things a bit differently and be thankful for what we have, not grumble about material things that I might view as missing.

2008 found us growing some food, in a somewhat haphazard beginners way, but we had fresh tomatoes all summer so I can't complain. We're making plans to expand our crop and even have someone lined up to finish the greenhouse so we can be ready for Spring.

We are hoping to do some traveling in 2009, both back to the US for visits with family and friends and who knows what else. Dec 31 brought a flood of memories from a Hawaiian vacation I took about 20 years ago. A cousin and her family were there and described their wonderful adventures in her annual holiday update, which made me a bit envious. I would love to go back there and see things I missed the first time around. I also want to get back to London and Paris at some point and maybe venture to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lofty goals, perhaps, but I think I have time.

We're hoping to get some home improvement projects ramped up around the house too. I of course want to get things going in the gardens as well as updating/upgrading the inside of the house. It can't be done overnight but I don't want to wait until the time comes to sell and all of a sudden it is refreshed just the way we like it, just in time to move. I did that once and will never let that happen again. Refresh NOW so we can enjoy it!

2008 brought a lot of new friends in Canada and we are starting to feel that we really fit in here. We have had to adjust to the West Coast a bit but I suspect that would be the same if we had moved to California or Washington. At times we still question whether we made the right decision to move but we have to shake off any doubts and move ahead. At least we have free unlimited long distance calling to the US, something we use quite a bit.

I hope this finds your 2009 off to a good start and wish you nothing but the best for the new year!