Noosa may not be the first destination that comes to mind for inclusion and equality, but it should according to Niel Mason, the general manager of the Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort and Spa.

Mason, who also sits on the board for Tourism Noosa, helped facilitate both his employer and the tourism body to be major sponsors for the Sunshine Coast Pride Festival, that comes to an end today after a weekend packed with festivities.

Mason attributes his connection with his local LGBTI community with Ke ‘Ano Wa’a, the values that Outrigger Hotels worldwide stand by.

“I joined Outrigger in 2005 because of their humanistic values, and I make decisions based on these values at the hotel. It has also positioned us to be an employer of choice,” he says.

“Ke ‘Ano Wa’a is broken down into  various parts including Kaulike, which means equality and Aloha which means treating others as you would like to be treated,” Mason adds, explaining how the Outrigger group of hotels and resorts are owned by a Hawaiian company.

“Outrigger is an inclusive employer that loves its diversity and we love it here in Noosa. Supporting Sunshine Coast Pride just makes sense, both from a community and commercial perspective.

“We got behind it to support Tourism Noosa to encourage events to the region. Paul Ferguson from Sunshine Coast Pride pushed it and we also worked with Peter Homan at Eumundi Markets, who is also on the board of Tourism Noosa.

“Just as the pride festival is an inclusive approach, so to is it our way at Outrigger. We have  an inclusive approach and there is no segregation,” Mason explained.

Meanwhile Dr Richard Kelley, Outrigger’s international Chairman Emeritus recently wrote about the benefits of inclusion to Hawaii saying: “Hawai‘i has long been a favorite travel destination for people from a diverse variety of cultures, beliefs and traditions, which is said to be a legacy of its Native Hawaiian population. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) visitors have found  the Fiftieth State to be one of the most open-minded places in the world, which has kept it high on their list of preferred vacation destinations.

“The Hawai‘i Marriage Equality Act of 2013, which Hawai‘i Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law effective December 2, 2013, has made Hawai‘i even more attractive to LGBT visitors, and many predict the resulting increase in wedding tourism will be significant,” he added.

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