Israel not seeking gay visitors - not that there's anything wrong with that
Tourism Ministry releases statement after report outlining efforts by the ministry to promote gay and lesbian tourism to Israel published.
By NATHAN BURSTEIN
The Tourism Ministry released a statement Tuesday announcing that Israel isn't seeking out gay travelers over other potential visitors - not, of course, that there's anything wrong with that.
"The Tourism Ministry regards all segments of the population as equals, and therefore each group... receives the same treatment," the press release said.
The release followed the publication Tuesday of a nearly two-page spread in Yediot Aharonot outlining efforts by the ministry to promote gay and lesbian tourism to Israel - a spread promoted on the newspaper's front page with a large color photo and a magenta headline about the government's campaign for a "Pink Jerusalem."
Inside the paper, readers were greeted with another pink headline, as well as government-sponsored photos of gay couples and travel groups enjoying themselves in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and at the Dead Sea.
The spread's main article went on to outline state efforts to woo gay and lesbian visitors from abroad, explaining their desirability to local tourism promoters as travelers who "love to go out, have a good time and shop."
That description is generally accepted in the travel industry as true, but, the Tourism Ministry said, the article itself is not. The photos accompanying the spread are all a year and a half old, the ministry's statement noted, and were taken as part of a previous campaign co-funded and initiated by the Tel Aviv Hotel Association. The ministry has "no connection" to the campaign described in the article, officials said, noting that none of the articles quoted a ministry representative.
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