Countries allowing vows cash in

The suits fit, the flowers have been chosen and the wedding vows written. Admittedly, the bridesmaid's dress caused weeks of consternation but Paul McCarthy says he is finally ready to marry his long-term partner, Trent Kandler, in New Zealand on Monday.

''I was raised in the country as a Catholic boy and I'm a pretty old-fashioned person,'' he said.

''There are certain rituals that go hand-in-hand with marriage.''

The couple, from Speers Point, near Newcastle, will be married in front of 20 family members and friends in Wellington after winning a competition run by Tourism New Zealand to be the first Australian gay couple to be wed under New Zealand's same-sex marriage laws.

''Our first holiday as a couple was to New Zealand, so we feel a strong attachment to the country,'' said Mr McCarthy, a 42-year-old vet.

While Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has promised to quickly introduce a bill to legalise same-sex marriage if Labor is re-elected, countries that have instituted gay marriage are trying to maximise the economic and tourism benefits.

At least three other competitions for same-sex couples to marry in New Zealand are being run.

The competition won by Mr McCarthy and Mr Kandler aimed to capitalise on the tourism potential of New Zealand's same-sex marriage law, said Tim Burgess, Australian general manager of Tourism New Zealand. He said gay marriage gave New Zealand a ''unique point of difference'' over Australia.

Visit Britain is also using the passing of same-sex marriage laws in England and Wales as a promotional tool to entice gay and lesbian tourists.


The chief executive of the Tourism and Transport Forum, Ken Morrison, said there was a significant market in this area that countries which permitted same-sex marriage were exploiting.

Although it was difficult to calculate how much this market was worth, Mr Morrison said a recent US survey found gay and lesbian travellers spent as much as 60 per cent more than heterosexual tourists.

"While there's nothing stopping gay couples travelling to Australia for their honeymoon, they may be more likely to honeymoon here if they could get married here, too,'' he said.

There were about 33,700 same-sex couples in Australia, according to the 2011 census.

Australian Marriage Equality has said hundreds of same-sex Australian couples were planning to head to New Zealand to marry. New Zealand will be the 16th country to allow same-sex marriage when it comes into force on August 19, while gay marriage in Britain is expected to be fully in force next year.

Mr McCarthy said, in an ideal world, he would have loved to get married at home in front of as many friends and family as possible.