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The Castro

San Francisco has a large and thriving tourist economy due to ethnic and cultural communities such as Chinatown, San Francisco, North Beach, San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury and most notably, the Castro. The Castro is a site of economic success that brings in capital all year round with many events catered to the gay community along with everyday business.

The Castro is a “thriving marketplace for all things gay” meaning everything in the area is catered to people who identify with homosexuality or other associated meanings to the word gay. There are gay cafes, gay theatres, gay shopping malls, and all other possible amenities with the word “gay” placed before it to make it a specialty establishment aimed at gay consumers. These establishments make the Castro an area of high spending and lead to high tourist traffic. Local residents to the area are not the only people who frequent the streets of the Castro. People travel from outside the city to visit the shops and restaurants as well as the events that take place such as the Castro Street Fair. Travellers make the trek from all over to experience this annual event and though it is advertised as LGBT, that does not stop heterosexual people from attending and partaking in the festivities. Events such as the Castro Street Fair drum up business for the community and bring in people from all over the nation who visit solely for the atmosphere the Castro provides.

People who do not necessarily feel comfortable expressing themselves in their own community have the freedom to travel to places such as the Castro to escape the alienation and feel accepted. There is a sense of belonging and acceptance that is promoted throughout the district to accommodate non hetero-normative people that many gay travellers are attracted to.

The Golden Gate Business Association (GGBA) was created in 1974 to help promote not just the Castro as a place for gay tourists, but also San Francisco as a whole. The GGBA sought to gain local political power and hoped to achieve their gains through an increase in gay tourism. This association then went on to form the San Francisco Gay Tourism and Visitor’s Bureau in 1983. The Bureau viewed gay tourists as spenders and realized capitalist gains could be made from them. Politically, the Bureau was Neoliberal and focused on economic interests. The gay tourism industry is a successful money-making entity that drives and benefits the economy due to the constant influx of consumers.

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