The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association will, for the first time ever, hold its annual symposium in Tel Aviv this October. The event is expected to attract some 200 travel agents that specialize in the gay and lesbian market.
On Wednesday, also for the first time, representatives of Israel's gay and lesbian community took part in the international tourism fair in Berlin. Representatives included Yaniv Weizman, who holds the tourism portfolio in the Tel Aviv council and Shay Deutsch, the community's spokesman.
"Most of the IGLTA members are travel agencies that cater to the gay and lesbian community around the world and hotel chains and aviation companies that market special products to the members of the community," said Deutsch, speaking at the fair.
"Besides the representatives at the Israeli booth, this year we also have representatives in the homo-lesbian tourism association's booth that is displayed in fairs around the world."
Gay representatives at Berlin tourism fair (Photo: Danny Sadeh)
Deutsch said the IGLTA holds two symposiums each year, and this year it chose to have one of them in Israel. The convention will be held by the Kenes exhibitions company, along with Tel Aviv's Tourist Association, and the Tel Aviv Hotel Association.
"The advantage of such a convention is that it exposes to travel agencies around the world what Tel Aviv has to offer to the gay population, and after such a convention, tourism blossoms in the hosting city," Deutsch said.
The spokesman added that every city that has hosted this event in the past received great exposure in the gay community's journalism around the world.
"Now, just as we refer to Tel Aviv as the White City, we will also have Tel Aviv - the pink city," said Deutsch, adding that the city's gay community "is preparing, ahead of the convention, special packages for the gay community, that will include partying at Tel Aviv nightclubs, meetings with members of the community and more."
The international convention to take place in Israel is just one of many events scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv this year since Weizman took on the tourism portfolio.
Among other things, the gay and lesbian association has prepared a special map for June, the Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, that will peak with the Tel Aviv pride parade.
The map, titled NAVIGAYTOUR, includes the locations of all of the city's gay-friendly nightclubs, bars and hotels.
Tourism Minister Ruhama Avraham Balila, who visited the booth said, "The city is promoting the matter of gay tourism to Tel Aviv. I welcome any tourist coming to Israel, regardless of their sex, opinions, or sexual preferences."