According to the Associated Press (AP), an estimate from a University of Hawaii researcher says a law to allow same-sex marriage in Hawaii is expected to boost tourism there by $217 million over the next three years.
The study's author has said Hawaii would benefit from pent-up demand for gay weddings, with couples spending $166 million over those three years on ceremonies and honeymoons, according to the AP report.
The state Senate passed a bill Tuesday legalizing gay marriage, putting Hawaii a signature away from becoming a same-sex wedding destination.
"The fact that the state Senate of Hawaii passed the Marriage Equality Bill, becoming the 15th state to recognized same sex marriage, will not only boost gay weddings in the island, but also position the destination within the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) segment worldwide," Carlos Melia of First in Service Travel, an agency based in New York, told Travel Agent.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who called lawmakers to a special session for the bill and has vocally supported gay marriage, said in a statement he will sign the measure. It will allow thousands of gay couples living in Hawaii and even more tourists to marry in the state starting Dec. 2.
Hawaii now becomes an outlet for couples in other states, bringing ceremonies, receptions and honeymoons to the islands.
"It is proven that LGBT consumers choose to spend their disposable income at destinations, where they are/feel accepted, recognized and respected," says Melia. "Hawaii has given a clear and loud, 'Aloha,' to the community celebrating diversity and equal rights. I mean, Hawaii had everything you would wish for to celebrate an ideal wedding, and now they have taken the step forward to make it official."
Photo by Linda Ching