The gay travel market is becoming more exciting and vibrant as I discovered at World Travel Market 2011 held in London UK this month. With more nations legalising homosexuality and equality of marriage destinations across Europe, Americas and Asia are beginning to realise their gay travel potential.
Within Europe Israel, Switzerland and Sweden are emerging as the new must-visit destinations leaving the traditional Lesbos, Gran Canaria and Sitges behind.
Tel Aviv has been breaking down negative preconceived perceptions to make it the hottest gay city of the Mediterranean. With daily flights now from Heathrow, Luton, Manchester, its annual Gay Pride in June and the new September annual gay art exhibition – gay travellers will be basking in the Tel Aviv sun and hitting the clubs before discovering the hidden gems off the beaten track in Israel.
Switzerland’s Arosa Gay Ski Week has risen in acclaim in recent years and now a fixed date in the winter calendar, running between 8 – 15 January 2011 – more gay travellers are taking on the Swiss slopes every year. Antwerp in Flanders, Belgium – the only Belgian city outside Brussels to stage gay pride, Antwerp actually did it first, with the annual “Pink Saturday” in the 1980s – but with new links by EuroStar and flight routes the historic city is more connected to the rest of Europe than ever before.
The SAS Love is in the Air campaign to find two couples to marry mid-flight drew international attention. Sweden is also home to the first openly gay premiership football player, a tolerant and inclusive nation. Stockholm launched its gay guide blog three years ago and has since ran its Leading Ladies of Stockholm campaign making it a premier lesbian destination.
Heading East, and both Turkey and India have begun engaging with the gay traveller; Further Afield, a database of handpicked gay-welcoming hotels and vacation properties, is soon to add a group of places in India.
Across to North America, and Fort Laurderdale was the host of the IGLTA Convention – this growth spot has become one of the most popular winter spots for North American travellers seeking the sun. It’s also now one of the best value destinations for international tourists during the summer.
In Latin America, while Brazil has been popular with gay and lesbian travellers for sometime with the infamous annual Rio De Janeiro carnival and the largest pride event in the world held in São Paulo, expecting over 4.5million visitors in 2012. The country has only recently recognised equal civil unions and marriage making Brazil the top LGBT destination in South America.
South America also plays home to emerging destinations Mexico, Venezuela and Chili as gay and lesbian travellers seek new experiences off the beaten track.
While over 80 countries continue to refuse to recognise homosexuality the world is getting bigger for the gay and lesbian traveller as equality becomes part of every day life.
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Category: Guest Post