Puerto Vallarta: An Exciting Culinary Destination for the LGBT Traveler in 2015
by Tim Wilson and CD Selph
The new year is here. It’s time to remember the culinary traditions and events in Puerto Vallarta which attract the LGBT traveler and to look forward to the exciting new plans for 2015. The very successful, multi-million dollar “Live It To Believe It" campaign launched by Mexico's tourism department (SECTUR) for 2014 has an exciting, second phase this year. Unveiled this past November in London at the World Travel Market, the new promotion showcases Mexico as an exciting, modern, and sophisticated destination and focuses on the diverse gastronomy of Vallarta-Nayarit, Cancun-Rivera Maya, Yucatan, Los Cabos, and Mexico City (Gastronomy Live It To Believe It Campaign).
This culinary emphasis puts Puerto Vallarta on top. Six of the ten, 2014 Trip Advisor’s “Best Fine Dining Restaurants in Mexico” are located in Puerto Vallarta and are gay-friendly: Cafe Des Artistes, Vista Grill, Ocean Grill, Bistro Teresa, Trio, and Le Kliff. Good dining is very important to the LGBT market. Why? Community Marketing Inc. a US company that collects data on the LGBT traveler, finds that 35% of gay men and 32% of lesbians indicate food and wine are a “major motivational factor in selecting a destination for travel”. Why is this important to tourism? The data also shows the LGBT traveler spends almost double on their vacations. It's not that they are more affluent; it is a matter of preference.
Like the well-developed arts and culture scene in Puerto Vallarta (also an LGBT priority), our destination boasts some of the best chef- inspired restaurants and culinary events in Mexico. Most are gay-friendly and many are gay-owned and operated. However,it is not enough for a restaurant to hang a rainbow flag and expect the LGBT community to show up.
Why is the LGBT diner important to Puerto Vallarta? Community Marketing Inc. finds 48% of LGBT diners eat out 2-5 times weekly (compared to 20% for non-gay diners) and 18% are frequent diners (6-9 times weekly). Mexican is their second most popular cuisine behind Italian. Not to bore you with more statistics, but 71% of these LGBT diners indicate that “restaurants are an essential part of their lives” compared to 44% of non-LGBT diners. And a whopping 76% of LGBT consumers are more likely to dine at a restaurant that has “outreached to the gay community”.
The LGBT diner is incredibly savvy, trendy, and loyal, but more than a tasty menu is needed to gain their support. Does the restaurant embrace diversity in the workplace and treat their employees fairly? Does the establishment support LGBT causes and LGBT community events (like Vallarta Pride)? What about gay support groups and charitable fundraisers (SETAC)? It is vital to reach out to the LGBT community with gay-friendly marketing and promotion. Gay publications, websites, and blogs are major resources used by the LGBT traveler when selecting a destination. If restaurants keep this in mind, the LGBT community will support them.
Locally, Puerto Vallarta has supported this new, national gastronomic campaign. The PV Tourism Board, partnering with Saveur, a leading culinary magazine, hosted the first, travel twitter party. There were hashtags galore celebrating PV as the leading culinary, beach destination of Mexico. Over 400,000 impressions were generated and 200 bloggers and food editors contributed to this successful promotion.
PV restaurants are caught up in the excitement. Gay-friendly restaurants (like Archie’s Wok, Di Vino Dante, and Barcelona Tapas) have done away with the old and brought in the new, expanding their establishment and improving their ambiance (Check What's new in puerto vallarta restaurants for 2014/15). Many gay-owned restaurants (like Derby Burgers, Diablos, Taste at Casa Cupula, and The Swedes) have enhanced their culinary offerings, making their menus and spaces even more attractive to the LGBT traveler.
In Puerto Vallarta, there is a great meal for every LGBT traveler’s budget--- from street side tacos to fine dining. The late night taco stands are very popular with the LGBT community since they are on walking routes between the gay clubs and bars. Well-established Mexican restaurants also work to attract the LGBT market (like El Palomar De Los Gonzalez, Gabys, Corazon Mexicano, Daiquiri Dicks, Si Senor, and The Blue Shrimp)
There are international culinary events and chef-inspired cooking classes throughout the year. The Festival Gourmet International saw its 20th anniversary last November and Restaurant Week in May is a great time to check-out old and new restaurants at a special, reduced price. PV offers a Wine Fest during March which is the Number One preferred spirit among gay men. LGBT travelers are health conscious and the local organic foods and international cuisines offered at the successful Saturday Old Town Farmers' Market was founded by lesbian women. Top rated El Arrayan, a lesbian owned Mexican restaurant, sponsors weekly cooking classes. Gary Beck, a gay restaurant reviewer residing in PV, sponsors a monthly restaurant group visiting local establishments.
With this new, 2015 emphasis on Mexico’s gastronomy, our destination will continue to attract not only our current LGBT diners but new ones. Puerto Vallarta has it all. You have to "Live it to Believe It".... Buen Provecho!