Tampa, Florida-The sounds and sights of Ybor City today are deep in its history from its finely rolled Cuban cigars to its Italian restaurants, Ybor has been a melting pot. Store owner Carrie West hopes there's room for one more group.
- Carrie West, Co-Owner MC Film:
- “Our store is eclectic gay.”
West is co-owner of the newly opened MC Film on 15th street.
It's one of about a dozen gay-based businesses on the west side of Ybor. To attract a piece of the gay travel market that reportedly spends $54 billion nationwide. West and his partner, Mark Bias, helped form the GaYbor District Coalition.
- “It's going to be a positive thing to let people around the country knows there's a gay and gay friendly district in Tampa Bay.”
The GaYbor Distinct Coalition has 33 members including several straight owned businesses from restaurants to hotels.
The Hampton Inn and Suites on 7th Avenue is a member.
- Becky Fox, Director of Sales at Hampton Inn & Suites:
- “It's a community that has been overlooked. it's a community a lot of people are afriad to be part of, they're afraid of the atmosphere.”
The hotel's director of sales says a marketing package offered for gay and lesbian travelers generated 30-thousand dollars in August.
- “It's a wonderful group bring in more people, everyone is friendly everybody having a great time.”
Coalition businesses hope the group can help put Ybor back on the map as a tourist destination for all.
- “We want to make sure it's the place to come.”
The GaYbor District Coalition is filing for non-profit status. The group plans to bring more gay related events to Ybor and become competitive with gay-friendly cities like Ft. Lauderdale and Key West.
Isabel Mascareñas,Tampa Bay's 10 News