Gay tourism destinations - those which showcase liberal attitudes toward same-gender couples and boast extensive gay infrastructure offering socializing opportunities - have been recognized as a lucrative niche tourism segment.

GayCities.com and American Airlines hosted a worldwide survey to choose the best travel destinations in different categories, including Best City for Gays, Best Nightlife City, Best Pride City, Best Resort Town, Best Food City, Best Dressed City, Best Sand & Sun City, Best Settle Down City and Best Up & Coming City.

The popular gay travel destinations of 2011 are:

1. Tel Aviv, Israel - Garnering a whopping 43 percent of the votes, the second most populous city in Israel has been voted the best gay travel destination of 2011. The city, located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline, is known as The City That Never Sleeps and is renowned for its 24-hour culture, beaches, bars and cosmopolitan lifestyle.

2. New York City, U.S.  - The most populous city in the U.S. and one of the most popular world tourism destinations, New York City, fared well as a popular choice for the gay community, accumulating 14 percent of the votes. The city's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, had earlier declared his wish to draw record-breaking sum of 50 million-plus tourists in 2012.

3. Toronto, Canada - The largest city in Canada, located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario, became the third popular choice, drawing 7 percent of the total vote. Toronto is among the world's top international tourist destinations; it is ranked 40, according to Euromonitor.

4. Sao Paulo, Brazil - The world's seventh largest city by population and a metropolis with significant cultural, economic and political influence, Sao Paulo drew 6 percent of the total votes to become the fourth popular choice of the gay community. The city has been hosting Gay Pride Parades, aiming to increase the visibility of the community, since 1987, attracting impressive crowds.

5. Madrid, Spain - The capital of Spain has been voted the fifth popular, drawing 5 percent of the total votes. The district of Chueca has become a hot spot for the gay population and is popularly known as the Gay Quarter, comparable to The Castro district in San Francisco.

6. London, U.K. - The capital city of the U.K., located on the river Thames, also drew 5 percent of the votes. A leading global city popular in several sectors, including arts, commerce and entertainment, London is a popular queer-friendly destination. Tourism is of one of London's prime industries and attracts over 14 million international visitors per year.

7. New Orleans, U.S. - Famous for its cross-cultural and multilingual heritage, New Orleans drew 4 percent of the popular votes. According to current travel guides, New Orleans is one of the top ten most visited cities in the U.S.

8. Mexico City, Mexico - The alpha global city, located in the Valley of Mexico also drew 4 percent of the votes, to make it to the list. It is one of the most important cultural centers in the world, boasting more museums than any other city and is also the city with the third-highest number of theaters, ranked behind London and New York.