New York City Hopes to Cash In on Gay-Marriage Tourism

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Elyse Lewin / Getty Images

The wedding industry boasts some of the most lucrative enterprises in the United States, and New York City’s newly-engaged clientele just got bigger.

On June 24, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Marriage Equality Act, allowing same-sex couples to wed legally in the state for the first time. As the legislation was met with a palpable, collective sense of euphoria that coincided with Manhattan’s annual Gay Pride parade, others were more focused on the other side of the coin. The dollar coin, that is.

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The City of New York’s official tourism and marketing agency, NYC & Company, is working on creating a global communication and marketing campaign—NYC I DO—to promote the five boroughs as a gay weddings designation. The agency’s website already features a section on how to get married, with a link on “NYC Wedding Venues” that showcases some of the nation’s most stunning—as well as expensive—sites for nuptials.

This isn’t the first campaign dedicated to gay and lesbian New Yorkers. In 2009, the Rainbow Pilgrimage/LGBT marketing program focused on a yearlong pilgrimage to New York to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall demonstration, a defining event that sparked the genesis of the gay rights movement in the United States.

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The same-sex weddings campaign, however, differs because it can help to transform the city’s economy and produce thousands of jobs. The NYC I DO platform “will create millions of dollars in additional economic impact to the city’s $31 billion tourism industry,” Kimberly Spell, a spokeswoman for NYC & Company, told Bloomberg.

Before the Marriage Equality Act was signed, a report from New York’s Senate Independent Democratic Conference estimated the state would earn nearly $400 million over the next three years from same–sex marriages. An estimated 21,309 resident gay and lesbian couples are predicted to take the plunge in a three-year period, and 45,000 out-of-state couples are predicted to visit New York to exchange vows.

Of course, thousands are expected to forgo planning an elaborate ceremony in order to wed at City Hall as soon as the law goes into effect on July 24. Officials are preparing for the deluge of couples vying to get hitched at clerks’ offices throughout the state.

“We will be ready,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the Daily News. “Will there be lines the first day? Yes. Get ready for it. Get used to it. It’s a lot better than no lines.”

Roughly 45,000 gay couples live in New York State, according to census estimates.

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