Call it the newest Arab-Israeli conflict. Two Mediterranean hotspots, each boasting a trendy nightlife, warm climate and carefree attitude, are vying for the pink dollars of the world’s gay tourists. Tel Aviv, Israel’s cultural and business capital, has already earned its place as a must-go destination for globe-trotting gays, and now Beirut is making its pitch, too.
“Western travelers come to us to feel the Arabian spirit,” Bertho Makso, Lebanon’s first and perhaps best-known gay travel operator, told The Media Line. “And Arabs have come to feel more comfortable.”
The global gay tourism industry is a booming, billion-dollar industry. With higher than average disposable income, and into shopping and culture, gay tourists are a desirable market. Last year, the economic impact of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered travelers was about $63 billion in the US alone, according to a study from Community Marketing Inc., a San Francisco-based market research firm.