While the majority of Australians cheered in the happy news that an historic marriage equality vote passed with a resounding ‘Yes!’ across every state of the country, tourism operators were also clapping their hands with glee.
The anticipated benefits for Australia’s economy are two-fold: a ‘Yes’ vote has strengthened Australia’s reputation as a progressive and inclusive country where international visitors of all stripes will be welcomed; and the cavalcade of same-sex couples heading down the marriage aisle (not to mention all those fabulous honeymoons!) will be a boom for the wedding and travel industry locally. Tourism Australia Managing Director John O’Sullivan told Lonely Planet News the YES vote further reinforces Australia’s global reputation as an inclusive and welcoming destination for all international visitors. “We already know that one of Australia’s biggest strengths as a tourism destination is the positive reputation we enjoy for being a friendly, warm and welcoming place to visit, irrespective of race, colour, religious creed or sexual orientation,” he said.
The Australian parliament is expected to legalise same-sex unions by the end of the year after the announcement. With nearly 50,000 same-sex couples in Australia potentially planning to take their marriage vows, plus tourists and expats heading Down Under to marry on Australian soil, many industries are hoping for a boom in business. “Nearly half of LGBTI couples who tied the knot in New Zealand last year came from other countries. Legalizing same-sex marriage would undoubtedly bring similar… tourism benefits,” John O’Sullivan explains.
Many Australian destinations are already on the front foot for attracting the ‘rainbow dollar’. Sydney proudly hosts the iconic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival every summer. Queensland, which surprised many commentators in Australia with a stronger pro-SSM vote than New South Wales, is hoping to expand its LGTBI offering beyond niche markets to be leaders with pride festivals and gay-friendly resorts for romantic getaways.
According to Chris Zeiher, Director of Marketing Asia-Pacific for Lonely Planet, the vote will have a real and tangible impact on how Australia is seen internationally. “The wide brown land is bathed now in shades of rainbow unashamedly telling the world that it’s also a very inclusive destination to visit. The resounding YES vote has demonstrated that Australia is an open and tolerant place for the LGBTI community to travel too. And hopefully, soon, travellers can start planning for their dream same sex wedding Down Under.”
Juliana Payne CEO of the Restaurant & Catering Industry Association told the Herald Sun in Australia, that the hospitality sector would benefit greatly from legalising same-sex marriage. “While it’s impossible to know exactly how many more weddings there will be … Australians are now spending more money than ever on weddings … if you assume that around 60% (of wedding costs) are hospitality-related, that represents $36,000 per wedding or $390 million of economic benefit in total.”
We’re expecting to see a lot of marriages with iconic Australian backdrops streaming via social media in the near future.