Berlin’s International Tourism Trade Show (ITB-Berlin) will be the site from which the Israeli government launches its campaign to promote gay tourism to the city of Tel Aviv.
This is part of Israel’s attempts to “pinkwash” its colonial policies and occupation of the Palestinian people by diverting international attention to a fictional public relations image appealing to western liberals.
ITB-Berlin, which brands itself as the “world’s leading travel trade show”, will host the Israeli exhibition entitled Tel Aviv Gay Vibe- Free; Fun; Fabulous. According to information on the ITB-Berlin website, this exhibition is a joint project of Israel’s GLBT Association (Aguda) and Tel Aviv’s Tourism Association, which work together to generate pride events for tourists, information materials, the construction of tour packages to Tel Aviv and their marketing and advertising.
According to a public relations piece, Israeli events in ITB-Berlin, which runs from 9-13 March 2011, will include a celebratory cocktail for gay travel agents from throughout the world and two huge parties for the German public, with DJs and artists flown in from Tel Aviv, in addition to the traditional trade exhibition.
Yaniv Weitzman, a member of the Tel Aviv Municipal Council and special advisor to the mayor on the gay community, stated that in 2010 some NIS 340,000 were invested in promoting gay tourism by the Tel Aviv Municipality and Israel’s Ministry of Tourism. Estimates note that some 4,000 gay tourists came to Tel Aviv in June 2010 for the city’s pride events, while a 20% increase in this number is anticipated for 2011.
Shai Deutsch, a board member of the Aguda, says that new events were developed for Tel Aviv gay tourism, including English language tours on Fridays focusing on the history of the gay community in the city, in addition to three special weekends: Tel AvivPurim Carnival, Tel Aviv Pride Week and Tel Aviv Endless Summer events in September. A “hot city pass” discount card is also being promoted for gay tourists.
Deutsch explains that while the campaign is currently focusing on Germany and the UK as sources of large number of tourists, the campaign will expand its reach in the coming year to include addition European countries, particularly Holland and France, in addition to the United States.
Palestinian Queers for BDS issued a statement in June 2010 calling upon the LGBTQI communities around the globe to stand for justice in Palestine through adopting and implementing broad boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until the latter has ended its multi-tiered oppression of the Palestinian people, in line with the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for BDS.
Additionally, in November 2010 the Tel-Aviv based group Israeli Queers for Palestine issued a statement denouncing the nomination of Tel Aviv in MTV’s gay tourist attraction “a shameful tribute to apartheid” and supported the aforementioned call by Palestinian Queers for BDS.
ITB-Berlin has a code of corporate social responsibility, stating that it “sees itself as a link between research and science, between companies, markets and societies. It utilizes this key position in order to…engage in a dialogue with companies in their efforts to create economically, socially and ecologically responsible tourism products and services…The members of the ITB Team admit their overall social responsibility…
ITB-Berlin may be contacted here:
Contact: Astrid Ehring
Telefon: +49 (0)30 3038 2275
Fax: +49 (0)30 3038 2141
Telefon: +49 (0)30 3038 2266
Fax: +49 (0)30 3038 2141
The AIC calls for the organization of demonstrations and other events to counter Israel’s pinkwashing at ITB-Berlin, which falls during Israeli Apartheid Week. The AIC will be pleased to receive information and photos of actions.