In 2022, Pride Month Travel Will Be More Expensive Than Ever

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At the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, Pride organizers were desperate to reimagine parades, protests and a wide range of colorful events in the form of virtual meetings. For the past two years, their main focus has been to prevent this from turning into another tedious Zoom call.

In 2022, with much of the world committed to living with the virus, they will face the opposite challenge: personal unity of LGBTQ+ people and their allies. And with a record number of anti-transgender bills this year, a Florida law that critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say You’re Gay” bill, and a forthcoming Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights, organizers expect big crowds and new political attention.

Cathy Renna, director of communications for the National LGBTQ Task Force and a consultant who has worked with many major pride events throughout her career, says the celebrations starting this month will incorporate many of the staples of past parades and festivals. But after nearly three years of not meeting face-to-face, there are notable changes at many events, including a reshuffling of Pride’s leadership from Philadelphia to London over allegations of racism and transphobia.

“You have seen the Prides change and grow,” says Renna, citing hybrid event formats and “an even more politicized atmosphere, intensity and urgency” as the prevailing themes.

Organizers, activists and hospitality experts say issues such as rising inflation, growing demand for summer travel and political organization are also impacting festivities in cities and towns.

Journey for Pride is cooler than ever

Despite a spike in coronavirus cases and a proliferation of high transmission sub-variants, several cities are gearing up for the biggest pride event in years. Representatives from several events, including the District of Columbia and London, predict attendance in 2022 could exceed 2019 levels.

“There is definitely an unmet demand for travel and big events,” says Haven Thorne, head of public relations for Pride in London. “The energy and excitement this year is incredible and we expect more people to celebrate Pride than ever before.” He predicts “over 1.5 million attendees” at events in early July marking the 50th anniversary of the UK’s first Pride.

Crowds are always a logistical puzzle, but the pandemic has presented organizers with new challenges. A spokesperson for Capital Pride says “many suppliers and small businesses” in DC have closed or are facing economic hardship. Bobby McPherson, Pride Toronto’s COO, says they have struggled to find staff as “a lot of people have left the world of events.” Most organizers cited higher prices as a pain point.

Expenses also hit travelers hard. Traveling to Pride’s main destinations is rarely cheap, and many events offer premium festival packages to attract guests with cash. For example, a VIP boar package to visit Pride Island in New York starts at $1,800.

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