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Israel Recruits Drag Queen to Promote Tel Aviv at World’s Largest Tourism Fair

TEL AVIV – An Israeli drag queen will promote Tel Aviv at the world’s largest tourism fair in Berlin next week, Ynet news reported.

The Tel Aviv Municipality and Israel’s Ministry of Tourism selected Arie Oshri to front a campaign to bring LGBT tourism to Tel Aviv ahead of LGBT Pride Week in June.

“I’m really proud of the choice (by the ministry) and am happy that this is finally happening. I am full of respect for the people working behind the scenes, but when it comes to marketing, they need a colorful and interesting visual character,” Oshri told Ynet.

“Tel Aviv has a lot to offer the gay crowd, and they are beginning to understand this in Israel,” he continued, adding that he aims to bring “color, glamour, and humor” to visitors at the fair’s Israeli pavilion.

When asked whether the choice to recruit a drag queen would work in Israel’s political favor or against it, Oshri was recalcitrant.

I’m not here to talk about politics, just topics from the LGBT world and gay rights in Israel. I think that Israel is in a very good place, especially for the Middle East, as the only state in which it’s legal to be gay. The Germans really like the political thing but that’s really not my interest. I’m coming to talk about Tel Aviv, the pride parade, and that’s it.

The ITB Berlin (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin) tourism trade fair will open this Wednesday. 11,000 representatives from 180 countries and 180,000 visitors are expected to attend the fair.

The Israeli delegation will include 180 hoteliers, travel agents, tourism ministry employees, airlines, and the directors of tourism boards and tourist sites in Israel.

According to Amir Halevi, director of the Tourism Ministry, the Israeli pavilion will include performances by street theater actors, a photo station, and portrait sketchers.

Last year, the ministry sent two Israeli chefs who made shakshuka, an Israeli egg and tomato dish, for the event’s participants. This year, the pavilion will offer visitors “hummus beer.”

According to a senior official in the tourism ministry, LGBT tourism is most stable type of tourism in Israel, and is affected by security and economic factors to a far lesser degree than other types.

The Tel Aviv Pride Parade will take place on the first weekend of June and is expected to draw tens of thousands of tourists, primarily from Europe.

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