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News on the gay travel front
TRAVEL Special to the online edition of Windy City Times by Jeff Guaracino
2012-09-11

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Next year, Chicago will be host to the 30th anniversary convention of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA). Hundreds of people from around the world will convene in Chicago to network, share ideas and to learn about the still rapidly changing world of LGBT travel.

The world was a much different place three decades ago. Hotels didn't offer "pride" packages. Airlines didn't reach out to our community. RSVP Vacations and Atlantis Events were big ideas but not yet a reality. Thirty years later, some of the 'inventors' of the gay travel market are still making big news themselves. Check out what's news from the biggest newsmakers in gay travel.

Welcome, Brand g

Charlie Rounds—the legendary man who helped invent LGBT travel on chartered ships when he and his fellow investors began RSVP Vacations—is leading a new company, Brand g. To no surprise, his first Danube River cruise is sold-out. What's new? The company is working with local LGBT organizations in Prague and Bratislava to connect Brand g travelers with locals. Who might be the special celebrity guest on this cruise? It is Czeslaw Walek, a community advocate and head of Prague Pride, which held its first annual event last year. Brand g Vacations, which The Mark Travel Corp owns, serves gay men, lesbians and straight allies. For more information about Brand g Vacations' cruises and tours, visit www.brandgvacations.com .

Welcome, ManAboutWorld

What's old is new again. Congratulations to Billy Kober and Ed Salvato, two of the pioneers of gay travel news for men. They are among the original team who developed Out and About, the travel newsletter that was mailed to people. (Imagine that—mail!) The inaugural issue of ManAboutWorld is available on iPads now. The first issue is free with subscriptions for a cost. Find it at the Apple App Store. Interestingly, this September marks the 20th anniversary of the debut of Out and About.

Show it off at Island House, Key West

Congratulations to Island House in Key West, Fla., for celebrating 35 years of providing our community with a safe destination for sun, fun and relaxation. Owner Jon Allen has been a leading voice in LGBT travel worldwide and a driving force behind Key West's retaining an identity that embodies "come as you are."

Philadelphia and R Family Vacations mark 10

Both Philly and R Family Vacations are celebrating 10-year anniversaries. Both the destination and the cruise company were launched in 2003. Gregg Kaminsky and Kelli Carpenter are both continuing to make memories for families everywhere. R Family has already announced the 2013 travel packages. Book now!

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) and the Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus (PGTC) are gearing up for a 10th-anniversary celebration in 2013. Stay tuned.

Aloha, Hawaii

In just six months since civil unions have became law in the Aloha State, 186 civil unions have been recorded. That is almost one civil union a day. Hawaii is not only the perfect honeymoon destination; it is now becoming a destination wedding vacation. Bravo to The Sheraton Waikiki, which has introduced Phoenix at Rum Fire, a monthly LGBT dance party occurring the last Sunday of every month. (Hula's Bar and Lei Stand is always going strong—seven days a week!)

Jeff Guaracino is the vice chair of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) and a writer.


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