Tens of thousands of tourists have descended on Tel Aviv for Gay Pride Week, creating high occupancy rates at local hotels and packing the city with visitors from all over the world.
"According to our estimates and the Tel Aviv Municipality, more than 25,000 tourists are visiting Tel Aviv these days ahead of the events, a 15% increase from last year," says Shai Doitsh, chairman of the Israeli national LGBT task force and an expert on gay tourism.
According to Doitsh, thanks to intensive work conducted in the past two years, including hosting reporters from around the world, new markets have opened for guests arriving for Gay Pride Week.
"This year we will also be able to see tourists from the United States, Australia, South America, including Brazil and Argentina, and quite a few tourists from Japan, alongside masses of tourists arriving from all over Europe," he says.
Masses of tourists began flocking to the city last Thursday, Doitsh says, prompting hotels to raise their prices, as well as hostels and apartments for rent which are very popular among tourists. Many hotels have almost tripled their prices this week.
"We turned to the hotels we work with and they explained to us that it's all a matter of supply and demand. They offer high-season prices because it's their time. Many of the tourists who arrive for Pride Week knows Israelis here and stay at their apartments. Those who have the money can of course stay in a hotel."
Doitsh adds that there is a huge demand for tickets to parties, Tel Aviv's beaches are packed and there is a festive atmosphere throughout the entire city.
"What we plan to do, like what is being done today in several cities in Europe, is to scatter the pride events all years round in order to attract more and more tourists without creating bottlenecks.
The goal is to have more events of the LGBT community during the year which will allow Tel Aviv to maintain its status in the world."
Tel Aviv has been named recently as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world by online magazine Business Insider, as well as one of the "14 places you should plan to visit In 2014."