Jude Medeiros and Jean-Marie Navetta at their wedding ceremony on Aruba
Gay and lesbian travel is nothing new, but with the recent legal changes in the Netherlands, which governs the island of Aruba, Aruba just began recognizing same-sex marriages in April 2007.
Even though there is only one minister on Aruba who performs “commitment ceremonies,” this is a step in the right direction for gay couples around the world and leads one to ponder the question: Is this the latest Caribbean niche agents need to get a hold of?
The first same-sex couple to experience a destination ceremony in Aruba was Jude Medeiros and Jean-Marie Navetta, on May 18 at Bucuti Beach Resort on Aruba.
However, Aruba does not legally recognize same sex marriages that are conducted on the island. The island does, however, recognize same-sex marriages that were conducted legally off of the island, such as in the Netherlands or California.
Because of Aruba's relationship with the Netherlands, a highly tolerant society, the island has a much more liberal view of same-sex marriages.
Another Caribbean property that has identified itself as offering commitment ceremonies is the Copamarina Resort & Spa in Guanica, Puerto Rico. The contact person there is Sadie Kirschner who can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travel Agent was told that, in working with the various Caribbean countries, Travel Impressions has been advised that Curacao is very seriously seeking the gay and lesbian market.
Other gay-friendly destinations in Travel Impression’s Gay & Lesbian Travel program are Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Aruba and St. Maarten. Here’s a link to information about the Caribbean destinations as part of the TI Gay & Lesbian Travel program.
Agents can opt in to the TI Gay & Lesbian Travel program on the website's home page, in the “Book Gay-Friendly Hotels” section. Registration allows agents to book on the site and it will authorize Travel Impressions to send agents faxes, e-mails and promotions that are specific to the TI’s Gay & Lesbian Travel program.
Bucuti Beach is also experienced in gay beach marriage planning and offers a wedding coordinator to help in the process.
“Bucuti fills a niche for same-sex couples seeking a destination wedding," Bucuti’s director of sales and marketing, Susan Biemans told Travel Agent. “This is a business opportunity for Bucuti. However, we also hope that welcoming and encouraging these ceremonies will lead to a greater tolerance, which will lead to legislation in their favor for legal marriages."
"Same-sex destination weddings could be the next big niche for travel agents. There are many committed couples who want to have their dream beach wedding in the Caribbean. It can now happen at Bucuti in Aruba."