The Key West Business Guild, one of the oldest gay business associations in the United States, is marking its 40th anniversary of serving LGBTQ travelers to Key West. It is estimated that today over 300,000 LGBTQ visitors come to the island each year.
The organization was launched in 1978, and today it has over 500 members. It promotes Key West to national and international travel markets, provides comprehensive information to visitors, and addresses the specialized interests of LGBTQ travelers.
“The guild was the first organization of its kind to advertise a gay-friendly tourist destination in the U.S.,” said Peter Arnow, who has served it as community liaison for more than 25 years. “It actively promoted same-sex marriages and works hard to provide an entertaining, alternate social experience.”
Since its inception, the guild has earned a widespread reputation as a resource for LGBTQ travelers to Key West. Staff members assist thousands of walk-ins each year at its 808 Duval St. visitor center, providing a welcoming introduction to the island, insider’s tips and information about local attractions and businesses, answers to their questions and even an LGBTQ-focused map of the area.
As well as visitor services and promotion, the organization coordinates several annual special events that are designed to appeal to the LGBTQ market. Among them are Key West Pride, Womenfest, Tropical Heat, and the Headdress Ball.
While celebrating its 40th birthday year, the guild continues its mission of serving LGBTQ travelers to Key West. Its visitor center is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.