Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tel Aviv competes for gay money

July 21, 2010 Wednesday 10 Av 5770 19:06 IST print




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Photo by: Courtesy

TA’s ‘Gay Vibe' aims to set tourism records



Tel Aviv Tourism Association kicks off campaign.



Stepping up to compete with top-destination cities around the world, Tel Aviv is reaching out to the international gay and lesbian community.

The Tel Aviv Tourism Association on Tuesday night kicked off a six-month outreach campaign labeled “Tel Aviv Gay Vibe,” hoping to introduce gay communities around the world to Israel’s “city that never sleeps.”

The campaign will be geared primarily toward gays and lesbians in Germany and France, offering discounted flight and hotel packages that begin at $500 for three nights.

Through February, participants will be eligible for four free tours of the city as well as a City Pass that provides discounts at restaurants and other venues.

Etti Gargir, CEO of the Tel Aviv Tourism Association, said the project, budgeted at NIS 340,000, would unite a community of generous spenders with an open and welcoming city.

“The gay market, they have money to spend and they love very much the stylized life of Tel Aviv,” Gargir said. “They like the good life.”

She added that the city’s combination of nightlife, culture and beaches makes it a unique destination.

Yaniv Weissman, an adviser to Mayor Ron Huldai and a representative of the gay community in Tel Aviv, said, “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Jew or a Christian. Just come to enjoy.”

He added that the “Gay Vibe” campaign was not intended to change the city – rather, it was an effort to expose the international gay community to an already thriving gay scene there.

“There already is a gay vibe in Tel Aviv,” he said.

“You will discover something you don’t know. It will surprise you.”

Two years ago, Weissman applied for his position in the mayor’s office on a platform of popularizing Tel Aviv’s gay community to a global audience.

“Tel Aviv has an idea, a vibe to offer over other cities all over the world,” he said.

At Tuesday’s kickoff event, Huldai came out to support the initiative, joined by representatives from Tel Aviv’s gay and lesbian community, as well as from the city’s tourism industry.

The project is jointly supported by the Tourism Ministry and the Tel Aviv Municipality. El Al Israel Airlines, Lufthansa and Air Berlin will offer package and charter flights to Tel Aviv.

Weissman downplayed security concerns, less than a year after a shooting last summer at a gay youth center in the city that left two people dead.

He admitted that security remained a central issue, but noted that such concerns were not unique to Tel Aviv.

“The gay community around the world is very strong. Even though we had this terrible murder in the youth center, it connects the communities even further,” he said.

Tel Aviv has already seen its tourism figures skyrocket. Gargir projects that this year’s numbers, to be released in September, will set records.

Earlier this year, the Tourism Association announced the ambitious goal of drawing more than 2.4 million tourists to Tel Aviv in 2010.

Gargir explained that when the “Gay Vibe” campaign ends in February, the association hopes to expand the project to other gay and lesbian communities abroad.

“We’ll do our best to attract other countries,” she said. “I believe in this market.”



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