HOUSTON (April 10, 2015) – A new national ad campaign launched by the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau aims to lure more LGBT visitors to the Bayou City.

Capitalizing on the 5th anniversary of the organization's LGBT-specific website MyGayHouston.com, the new campaign uses groups of locals in settings around the city to showcase day-in-the-life experiences. The diverse cast of 15 gay and lesbian professionals is captured in six different scenes ranging from Downtown's Discovery Green park to the iconic Buffalo Bayou which winds its way through the city.

As Houston's identity as a culinary and cultural mecca continues to grow, the GHCVB, which is a division of Houston First Corp., is striving to capitalize on how strongly these attributes resonate with the gay community. Culture and food were ranked among the top travel priorities of respondents to the 2014 LGBT travel study conducted by San Francisco-based Community Marketing Inc. Yet the annual study, which surveys the travel habits of the national community, found that Houston ranks relatively low among the top 20 destinations for gay leisure travelers and doesn't rank at all among the top 20 for lesbian travelers.

"The goal of this campaign is to introduce the Houston story to the national LGBT audience and begin to educate those who have never thought of Houston as a destination about the city," says A.J. Mistretta, senior public relations manager for the GHCVB who also oversees the MyGayHouston.com site. "What we've done is create a series of vibrant scenes with bold statements intended to provoke enough interest that the viewer wants to learn more-both about the people in the ads and Houston itself. In time, we hope Houston becomes more top-of-mind for gay travelers and that in turn our position on rankings like the one conducted by CMI rises."

The campaign is running nationally in print publications such as Out and The Advocate and a number of LGBT websites. The ads direct viewers to the landing page MyGayHouston.com/discover where they can find the full spectrum of scenes from the ads and complementary editorial content-from the best restaurants in town to the top gay nightlife hotspots.

While Houston's profile as an LGBT destination needs a boost nationally, visitation figures for the MyGayHouston.com site suggest there's already growing interest. Monthly traffic to the site doubled year-over-year to nearly 25,000 in March 2015 and the percentage of those visits that are new users is up more than 14%. In the last month, visitors to the site have come from Texas, California, Florida, New York, Illinois, Louisiana and foreign countries including Germany, India, the United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico.

The GHCVB believes that using real locals in lieu of models in the new ads, much as it has done with its award winning My Houston campaign, will provide an authenticity that's often missing in ads targeting the LGBT demographic.

"We sought out people who were helping shape Houston's gay community-through their work, volunteerism and advocacy, and we think allowing them to talk about ‘their Houston' paints a very compelling picture," Mistretta says.