Tourism Ministry eyes gay tourists: The ITB international tourism exhibition, considered the most important professional tourism fair in the world, which begins in Berlin on Wednesday, includes – for the first time – an Israeli stand encouraging gay tourism to Tel Aviv.
The Tel Avivian delegation will be stationed at the exhibition's Pink Pavilion and will present a variety of options awaiting gay tourists in Israel.
During the fair, the city will launch its new gay tourism campaign for 2011 under the banner, "Tel Aviv – a metropolis by the beach", which will be promoted in Europe and the United States.
Tel Aviv's "pride" activity in Berlin will include a festive cocktail for gay agents from all around the world and two huge parties for the German audience, which will be attended by DJs and artists from Tel Aviv's nightclubs.
The activities encouraging gay tourism to Tel Aviv and the participation in the Berlin fair are part of a project which has been promoted over the past few years by the Israeli GLBT Association and the Tel Aviv Tourism Association together with Tel Aviv Council Member Yaniv Weizman, the mayor's advisor on the gay community and the person in charge of the tourism portfolio in the municipality.
According to Weizman, some NIS 340 million (about $94 million) was invested last year in promoting gay tourism to Tel Aviv. The budget came from the Tel Aviv Municipality and the Tourism Ministry through the Tel Aviv Tourism Association.
"After a wonderful year in terms of promoting gay tourism and positioning Tel Aviv's as an international gay capital, we are continuing our efforts in full force in 2011 as well," says Weitzman.
"Tel Aviv's presence in the international Pink Pavilion is another important step in an extensive marketing move, the results of which we will see in the 2011 Gay Pride events which will be held on June 10."
Shai Deutsch, a member of the GLBT Association's executive committee and an ambassador of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association in Israel, says that some 4,000 gay and lesbian tourists visited Tel Aviv during the June pride events last year and that a 20% rise in the number of visitors is expected this year.
Deutsch added that the effect of the campaign encouraging gay tourism to Tel Aviv is being felt this year in the winter months as well, and that the gay community's clubs in Tel Aviv have been reporting an increased presence of homosexual and lesbian tourists.
"Dozens of journalists and travel agents for the community visited Israel in 2010. We developed new products, including English-speaking tours on Fridays about the history of the gay community in Tel Aviv and in Israel, and we offer three unique weekends to European and American tourists around the holiday of Purim, the Pride Parade and at the end of the summer.
"We are currently focusing on the German and English audience, as a huge amount of gay tourism comes to Tel Aviv from those countries. Later on in the campaign this year, we'll direct our efforts at additional countries in Western Europe, with unique campaigns for the gay audience in Holland and France on the agenda," added Deutsch.