Move over San Francisco and New York - the hottest destination for gay tourists is now in the Middle East.
Recently named best gay city in a contest, Tel Aviv has seen a sharp rise in gay tourism. The city has long been referred to as a “bubble” for its openness in a region not exactly known for tolerance toward homosexuality - something that seems to add to its allure.
Gay Pride Event Coordinator Adir Steiner:
“Tel Aviv is hot right now because it's unique. It's in the Middle East where it's not so easy to be gay and it's like a paradise in an area where you would not obviously have found an open city like Tel Aviv. So people find it interesting.”
The interest in the exotic is apparent at the many gay nightclubs throughout the city.
Drag Queen Ziona Patriot:
“You know, gay people always love something new. Like, we know San Francisco and we know New York and we Know Amsterdam. We know it already. But there is something new. And we have so many things here.”
Israel’s Tourism Ministry launched a campaign three years ago to promote gay tourism. Their efforts seem to have paid off. Gay tourism consultants have been flooded with requests, and attendance at Tel Aviv’s annual pride events was up 25% last summer.