Gay Tourism 'Tricky' for Israel

Nation welcomes economic boost, but not liberal culture
By Rebecca Smith Hurd,  Newser User
Posted Aug 13, 2008 12:56 PM CDT
Gay tourists are flocking to Israel for its warm Mediterranean beaches.   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – Two men kissing near the Mount of Olives isn’t what religious pilgrims expect in Jerusalem, and the boom in gay tourism is making some uneasy, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Thousands of gay travelers—drawn to the beaches, nightlife, and trendy Tel Aviv—have visited Israel this year, spending millions of “pink dollars.” It's a sharp contrast to the industry's lifeblood: evangelical Christians and travelers with Jewish interests.

“Those who fail to recognize Jerusalem's holiness should stay away,” the deputy prime minister warns. Yet the gay market, which didn’t exist a decade ago, is clearly a valuable one, so the industry quietly continues to advertise. "Dealing with gay tourism has to be done in an intelligent and sensitive way," a local tourism expert says. "It is wanted. It's just tricky, like so many things in Israel."