Organizer: 'In General, Gay And Lesbian Travelers Have More Disposable Income'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – While the debate over same-sex marriage takes place at the U.S. Supreme Court, a conference was held to turn New York State into a gay-friendly tourism destination.

The Gay and Lesbian Tourism Conference was held Wednesday in Poughkeepsie.

Stephan Hengst of said the aim of the conference is to work with vendors looking to attract gays and lesbians to do business across the state.

Since the Marriage Equality Act was passed in New York last summer, Hengst said business owners statewide are seizing opportunities to bring in new customers.

“Marketing to gays and lesbians makes for smart business,” Hengst told WCBS 880’s Monica Miller.

The website’s co-founder said the Big Apple is the number one destination for gay and lesbian tourism, but they’re trying spread the wealth up the Hudson River with the conference.

“They know that people are planning their weddings and they want them to think about selecting them as a florist, as a caterer, as a DJ,” Hengst said.

This was the first-ever tourism conference aimed at attracting the gay community.

“They go on one more trip every year than heterosexual consumers do,” Hengst told Miller. “In general, gay and lesbian travelers have more disposable income.”

Hengst said using photos of gay and lesbian couples in promotional materials is a way to reach out to the community.

“They want to see people that look like them. That’s Marketing 101,” he added.