The Schmooze

Tel Aviv and Beirut Compete For Gay Tourism

Israel and Lebanon are at it again. But there’s no heavy artillery in this battle — unless you count giant sums spent by tourism boards in Tel Aviv and Beirut in a furious competition for gay tourists. With both cities “boasting a trendy nightlife, warm climate and carefree attitude,” reports the Jerusalem Post, efforts to lure “pink dollars” are ramping up.

Earlier this year, the Forward reported on Tel Aviv’s ascent as a gay destination; in April, a pair of U.S. gay tour operators even made headlines with dueling, ultra-luxe packages for gay travelers. There’s also a new, official Facebook page, Tel Aviv Gay Vibe, that touts the White City as “a dashing piece of gay heaven.”

Beirut, however, earned the moniker “Provincetown of the Middle East” in a 2009 Travel story in the New York Times. And according to the Post, industry powerhouse the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association held its first symposium in the city a few weeks ago. The owner of the gay travel agency LebTour also tells the Post his company now escorts 500 gay tourists around Lebanon every year.

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Tel Aviv and Beirut Compete For Gay Tourism

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