A general view shows central Tel Aviv backed by the Mediterranean Sea Jan. 23, 2012. Less than an hour away but a world apart from traditional places of pilgrimage in the Holy Land, Israel's free-wheeling city of Tel Aviv has become a Mediterranean hotspot for gay tourism. REUTER/ Nir Elias
The night clubs in Tel Aviv, the second most populous city in Israel, are full of gay couples and gay parties are not unusual in this city, which sports a number of hotels, pubs and bars that are gay-friendly and more than welcoming of the tourism that it brings.
Located less than an hour's journey from traditional places of pilgrimage in the Holy Land of Jerusalem, is a world far removed - Israel’s open city of Tel Aviv.
Already dubbed as “the gay capital of the Middle East,” Tel Aviv, situated on the Mediterranean coast, is also said to have a large community of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.
“Tel Aviv has become a ‘gay Mecca’ and is enjoying a tremendous tourist boom in recent years,” according to Leon Avigad, owner of a city’s gay hotel, who was quoted in a Reuters report.
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A drag queen performs at a gay party in a Tel Aviv night club Jan. 20, 2012. REUTERS/NIR ELIAS
The city hosts a number of gay pride events, including Asia's biggest pride parade... one that attracts hordes of gay tourists from across the world. The city was also voted the Best Gay City in the world, for the year 2011, in a poll jointly conducted by American Airlines and GayCities.com. Local tour operators have seized on that award and capitalized on the already gay-friendly culture of the city, designing travel itineraries with a “gay twist”.
At the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial (in Jerusalem) I make sure the guide will also speak about the (Nazi) persecution of homosexuals, Russell Lord, a travel consultant who specializes in gay tourism, said. Lord added that queries for traveling to Tel Aviv have increased ever since the aforementioned poll's results.
People stand by the bar at a gay party in a Tel Aviv night club Jan. 20, 2012. REUTERS/NIR ELIAS
People dance at a gay party in a Tel Aviv night club Jan. 20, 2012. REUTERS/NIR ELIAS