The marketing budget for attracting gay tourists to Tel Aviv is to increase 10 times over, Eti Gargir, CEO of the Tel Aviv Tourist Association and Yaniv Weizman, manager of the tourism portfolio in the municipality said last week.
The marketing budget will climb from NIS 50,000 (about $13,300) in 2009 to roughly NIS 500,000 (approximately $130,300) in 2010. The Tel Aviv Municipality and the Israeli Hotel Association will particularly target the gay community in their efforts to attract tourism.
"The gay tourist likes urban vacations, he forms attachments with the community in the cities he visits, enjoys partying and usually returns to places he had a good time in," Weizman said. "This is established tourism which draws in young tourism and sets trends which other sectors of the population adopt."
The Tel Aviv Tourist Association is interested in hosting the international gay pride parade in 2012 in the city and has already filed a formal request with the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association. "The parade will boost economic and cultural prosperity and will attract thousands of tourists. The Barcelona parade for example was attended by a million and a half tourists."
The Tel Aviv Municipality started marketing itself as a gay travel destination and specifically as a "City Break" destination which is suitable for vacations of 3-5 days, mainly during weekends. As part of the gay and lesbian week to be celebrated this June the city will set up a "love village" in the Meir Park which is slated to attract many tourists.
Pride parade in Tel Aviv. Israel's gay tourism destination (Photo: George Ginsburg)
The Tel Aviv Municipality together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the gay center are working on a plan to purchase a bus which will shuttle between gay festivals in Europe and promote Israel's international image.
According to the plan, the bus will transport Israeli dancers, play Israeli music and serve as a marketing platform for Israel and the branding of Tel Aviv as its national gay city. Festival goers will be offered Israeli food and will get a chance to watch Israeli films on board the vehicle.
Municipal officials are also considering making a documentary film inspired by the Australian hit " Priscilla Queen of the Desert" which will accompany the bus across Europe. The bus is slated to start its journey in Madrid and will visit Berlin, Warsaw, London and Rome.
Since the project is estimated to cost several hundred thousand dollars, the municipality has turned to the Foreign Ministry for funding support.
"We are examining the idea. The project has many advantages in that it can reach young and liberal audiences with which Israel usually has a severe image problem," a senior official in the Foreign Ministry said.