Hawaii Legalizes Civil Unions; Hotels Offering Packages

As of January 1, Hawaii recognizes civil unions for same-sex couples, opening up a new market for destination weddings.

According to the Maui News, industry insiders have said they expect that the law will lead to a boost in tourism among same-sex visitors. Hotel executives said they're actively reaching out to the gay and lesbian community with promotions and packages.

Those resorts include the Grand Wailea, which is offering civil union or commitment ceremonies in the hotel chapel or on the beach, vow renewals, and ceremonies that incorporate Hawaiian culture, like lei exchanges, conch blowing or a luau.

Managing Director Matt Bailey told the paper that welcoming same-sex couples made sense for the hotel on a variety of levels. He said market research has shown that same-sex couples are an attractive market, because they tend to be higher income, are less likely to have children and often travel with friends. "It's also the right thing to do," Bailey said.

Aqua Hotels and Resorts are also offering packages for commitment ceremonies and civil unions across the islands.

Obviously, the new law presents new opportunities for agents specializing in LGBT travel, Hawaii travel and destination weddings. Bruce Fisher, owner of Hawaii Aloha, said that he felt that civil unions would be "great for the wedding biz, the more the merrier!!" A research paper from February 2011 from the University of Hawaii estimated that 9,500 additional visitor days would be generated if Hawaii performed civil unions, and that the profit across various industries could be in the millions. 

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