ITALY (eTN) – The 11th edition of NoFrills (Bergamo, September 23-24, 2011), will dedicate ample space to the Gay Tourism Expo, the first event of its kind dedicated to the segment GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender). This information was revealed recently at a press conference in Rome.
Paolo Bertagni, CEO of NoFrills, highlighted the economic importance of the GLBT segment, which in Italy has a turnover of 3.2 billion euro a year and, also, a cultural “clearance:” a recent survey unveiled that 83% of travel agents in central Italy are prepared to become gay-friendly.
“NoFrills is an event dedicated basically to tourism, pointing to a pure business,” explained Bertagni, “In addition to the economic sector for the GLBT travel demonstrated by the travel agents, there is also a social aspect to which the NoFrills is a party. Expo Turismo Gay custom area within the pavilion and a business meeting point for Italian and foreign buyers and a permanent observatory [is] dedicated to gay and lesbian tourism, with a questionnaire to be filled.”
“The gay tourism in Italy reached 7% of the total turnover of the tourism sector,” said Alessio Virgili, director of Quiiky, the tour operator specializing in GLBT tourism and AITGL (Italian Association of Gay & Lesbian Tourism), and also President of the International Association of Gay and Lesbian Tourism.
“Gay Tourism,” he added, “often coincides with festivals and events dedicated to the gay film festival, gay pride, etc. In Italy, it is still a niche tourism, but is attracting increasing interest, considering the fact that this target has a high propensity to spend more than a heterosexual tourist and affords at least three trips a year. In addition, many identify with the symbol Dink – Double Income No Kids: the majority of gay people has no children and considers this situation an added value, together with the availability of a higher budget that is spent on travel. At Nofrills, there will be a roundtable discussion to investigate the potential of this type of tourism, and travel agents will be invited, too, as well as those working in the sector, including the hotelier.”
Gay-friendly destinations in the world
The tourists prefer GLBT gay-friendly destinations without discriminatory laws with hotels and beaches that are gay friendly and dedicated to GLBT travelers, according to Virgili. He mentioned several gay-friendly destinations in the world, starting from Gran Canaria, Ibiza, in the Balearic Islands, Mykonos; the increasingly popular Tel Aviv; then Turkey with Istanbul and Bodrum; and countless places in the United States and Canada, especially Toronto and Vancouver.
In Italy, some things are changing, but the country is still far from large international numbers: apart from Viareggio and Torre del Lago, the first and most important gay-friendly places thanks to years of constructing activity done by Alessio De Giorgi, a leader of the gay movement in Italy, Gallipoli (Apulia) and Catania (Sicily) are emerging.
“The Italian tourism is an important key to our target,” said Clark Massad, Ambassador Iglta (International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association), supported by Alessio De Giorgi and Alessio Virgili au par, with the same title.
The importance of the gay and lesbian market in the tourism sector was also emphasized by Francesco Granese of Assotravel Confindustria (Travel Association and Industrial Confederation): “The LGBT tourism is a growing niche, while the tourism market is in crisis, and a growing niche, consisting of [a] wealthy category of consumers looking for quality facilities cannot grow unobserved. Framing this as a GLBT tourism association, and as member of Assotravel, [it] is also the best way to ransom GLBT from its ghettoization.”
“In addition,” concluded Granese, “the gay-friendly travel agents are on the increase, and we must enable them to be prepared to serve this market in the best satisfactory way.”
The Italian law voted against homophobia
Fabrizio Cicchitto, PDL leader of the House, said: “We consider gays equal citizens, and for this we contest all special and differential treatment under the law.” Comments from the opposition, Nichi Vendola, Sel leader and President of the Puglia Region were, “Once again the Parliament shows its lack of will to understand what’s happening in our society and closes itself in the depth of darkness.”
A harsh criticism comes from Franco Grillini, President of Gaynet: “The law on homophobia was rejected by UDC, the armed wing of the Vatican, with a ruling of unconstitutionality, peppered with arguments worthy of the worst European extreme right. The Vatican was preserved through the bishops’ newspaper Avvenire, to demand the rejection of the motion pro-homophoby using the same arguments used by Mgr. Martin at the UN’s to ask the rejection of the motion on the European universal decriminalization of homosexuality.
“The Vatican orders and the Parliament obeys. It is not by chance that it is once more the UDC party to execute orders to prevent that any rules to protect [the] LGBT community can see the light in Italy. The rejection of the law against homophobia presented by the deputy Ms. Concia is actually an incentive to continue in the horrid series of homophobic acts of violence and aggression towards the LGBT community. In fact, today’s homosexuals are like the Jews in the mind of Hitler.”
The increase of crimes in Rome
In the meantime, the Gay help telephone service reports the escalation of homophobic violence in Rome on the month of July. Brutal and unjustified assaults are frequent in every zone of the town including Villa Borghese.
The sad thing is that a number of the victims are under-aged boys who hide their status to the family. For this reason ,they do not report the aggressions against them to the law.