Tel Aviv Pride Parade Tourists to Bring in Around $40 Million

Restaurants, clubs and Airbnb poised to cash in as Tel Aviv’s LGBT week kicks in

Tel Aviv's Hilton Beach decorated in the Pride colors.
Tel Aviv municipality

The Tel Aviv Pride parade has expanded in the 2000s from one event to a week-long bonanza, and city businesses are raking in the revenues — this year an expected 140 million shekels ($40 million).

On Friday, 200,000 people are expected to march in Tel Aviv’s 19th Pride parade from Gan Meir to the beach to a party at Charles Clore Park, say the organizers, who expect about 30,000 foreign tourists.

About 4,000 tourists will stay at city hotels, the hotels say; according to the municipality, last year about half the tourists visiting Tel Aviv for Pride Week rented apartments, mostly through Airbnb. The others stayed with friends or acquaintances, or stayed outside Tel Aviv.

The hotel crowd is older, 44 on average compared with 37 among renters. The city says that over half the tourists during this period are return visitors staying five days on average. Tel Aviv invests about 2 million shekels in Pride events, the only government agency to foot the bill.

The city expects Tel Aviv businesses to enjoy a revenue boon of about 140 million shekels — many businesses including of course clubs, restaurants and transportation services. The municipality expects the average Pride tourist to spend about 960 shekels a day, compared with 550 shekels for the average tourist, based on Tourism Ministry statistics.

Pride tourists are thought be more well-to-do, and they're people with the spending habits of adults without children. Also, the parties and special events have a way of opening people’s wallets.

Ticket prices for Pride events start at 280 shekels for one event and 400 shekels for three. DJ Offer Nissim will host a concert at the Tel Aviv Convention Center on Saturday, while the Pet Shop Boys will perform at Yarkon Park. The city’s biggest clubs, the Block and Haoman 17, will both hold big bashes.

Over 20 sponsors have provided another million shekels for Pride events. Sponsors with floats will include Ebay, Microsoft, Jägermeister, Stolichnaya and Gilead Sciences. The British Embassy is taking part for the first time this year and will have a family-oriented float.

Many entertainment centers, among them Dizengoff Center, the Sarona Market and the Allenby-Rothschild Market, are hosting activities for the LGBT community. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is sponsoring a health conference about bisexuality at the LGBT community’s center in Tel Aviv.

“In past years we chased after companies who feared taking part in or sponsoring Pride events,” said Gidi Schmerling, a spokesman for the municipality. “We were happy to discover that this year we’ve received lots of inquiries.”

Yaniv Weizman, the Tel Aviv City Council members who holds the Pride portfolio, said that in past the parade attracted sponsors identified with the community like gyms.

“This year brands like Google, Fattal and Nike have provided support,” he said. “It attests to the strengthening of the LGBT community and its continued entry into the Israeli mainstream, and to the change in thinking of businesses, which see the Pride community as a consumer partner.”

According to Nadav Peretz, the owner of OUTstanding Travel, LGBT tourists visiting the country “become ambassadors of liberal and progressive Israel. It may sound weird, but they’re the new evangelicals — they speak well of Israel and are waiting to return,” he said, referring to evangelical Christians, a community broadly supportive of Israel.

During the week, the Tourism Ministry will host leaders from the world Pride community, who will be closely observing the events and celebrations.