Gay parade is proposed to attract 'pink dollar'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 February, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 February, 2003, 12:00am

Hong Kong has been urged to tap into the 'pink dollar' and promote itself as Asia's gay tourist destination.

As part of the proposal, legislators are being asked to consider the economic benefits of hosting a street carnival for the world's gay and lesbian community, similar to Sydney's world-famous Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Gay lobbyist Reggie Ho, who put forward the plan to the Home Affairs Bureau, said more needed to be done to exploit the potential of the 'pink dollar'.

Senior government officials, human rights campaigners and gay lobbyists are due to meet to discuss the proposal as part of a Home Affairs Bureau committee meeting tomorrow.

'Hong Kong is cosmopolitan and vibrant and would be the perfect venue for a gay parade,' Mr Ho, of gay lobby group Horizons, said yesterday.

'Most lesbians and gays do not raise children and so they are more willing to use some of their disposable income on luxuries and travel.

'If a gay parade was to be held in Hong Kong it would certainly attract many high-spending lesbian and gay tourists.'

Referred to as the 'pink dollar', the money spent by gay tourists attending Sydney's annual Mardi Gras is estimated to inject more than A$66 million (HK$300 million) into that city's economy each year, he said.

A spokesman for the Hong Kong Tourism Board yesterday confirmed there was interest in the growing potential of the gay tourism market.

'The pink dollar is a growing market and we do monitor global market trends,' said spokesman Simon Clennell. 'It is not something we are focusing on at the moment . . . however we have not ruled it out for the future.'

However due to the 'low-profile' of the gay culture and nightlife in Hong Kong there were some hurdles towards promoting the city as a major gay destination, he said.

'The priority for Hong Kong tourism presently is to promote the region as a family destination, especially targeting the opening of Disneyland in 2005.

'We also see the young office lady as a very important market.

'Hong Kong is very popular among this sector as a short weekend break, renowned for its shopping, dining and entertainment.'

In an open letter to chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, Mr Ho wrote of the need to break down discrimination and sexual stereotypes in Hong Kong.

'All they [the gay community] need is a little support from the Hong Kong government, which prefers to shun the taboo subject of sexual minorities because it does not want to stir controversy.'




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