Tel Aviv making gay history. For the first ever time Israel will host an International Gay and Lesbian Tourism Association (IGLTA) convention, which will be attended by 20 travel agents from around the world specializing in gay tourism.
The conference will begin on Saturday and culminate in a symposium conducted at the gay community's center in Tel Aviv's Meir Park.
The gathering is being organized by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality's tourism foundation headed by Etty Gargir and in collaboration with the Gay and Lesbian Association and the Tel Aviv Hotel Association. Tel Aviv's tourism foundation recently joined IGLTA.
Participating in the event will also be IGLTA's Executive-Director John Tanzella.
The travel agents that will be coming from abroad will hold a tour in Israeli tourist attractions in Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and northern Israel, and will also hold meetings with gay community members. The agents are also slated to visit various sites in Tel Aviv in order to market them for gay and lesbians around the world.
During the symposium, which will be held next Sunday in Tel Aviv, Outnow Managing-Director Ian Johnson will present initial results of a survey being currently performed in England, Germany and the United States examining the Tel Aviv brand within the gay community. Outnow is one of the world's leading companies specializing in consulting, marketing and branding for the gay community, and is the one responsible for branding Berlin as Europe's gay capital.
Increasing gay tourism in Israel
Tel Aviv council member Yaniv Weizman said Monday that he expects the conference in Tel Aviv to increase gay tourism in Israel and that Tel Aviv's tourism foundation's joining the IGLTA and Shay Deutsch's appointment as Israel's ambassador to the organization will prove beneficial for increasing gay tourism in Israel.
IGLTA was created in 1983 and has more than 1,500 members representing aviation companies, car rental companies, hotels, travel agencies and more. The organization operates in 65 countries around the world.
According to IGLTA's data, the most popular destinations for gay tourism in the US are New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago, whereas Europe's most prominent destinations include England, France, Germany and Italy. Other desirable destinations include Cancun, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong and Australia.
The global economic crisis has not affected gay community travels and their extent remained the same as last year's.