Gay snub for Greek island holidays.
Gay tourists are giving Greek Island holidays the thumbs down, according to the latest research into the Greek beach holiday tourism market. Greek island holidays on Lesbos and Mykonos beaches have been popular destinations with the gay tourist market for years, attracting thousands annually.
But latest research reveals a sharp fall in the numbers of gay tourists heading for Greek island beaches despite a 10% rise in in tourism in Greece in 2011.
Gays are turning elsewhere for beach holidays according to gay research firm OutNow Consulting, based in Amsterdam. And finance company Bloomberg claims Greece has dropped out of its top ten holiday destinations of choice for gay tourists.
Greek island beaches on islands such as Lesbos and Mykonos used to be the most popular destinations for gays who spend an estimated €150 billion each year on holidays abroad.
But gays are turning to more sophisticated venues with the most popular holiday destinations now being Rio de Janiero, New York, France, Spain and even Australia. Athens does not even appear among the top 20 city destinations for gay visitors.
Tourist experts say it doesn't help that Greece falls short in legal protection for gay rights and fails to promote gay tourism. While the Greek Orthodox church opposes gay marriage, a government ministry established last year is examining proposals to change existing family law to recognise same-sex civil partnerships.
The Greek government says it intends to change the law so Greece follows France and the UK in recognising same-sex partnerships but it may be too little, too late. Tourism accounts for and provides one in five jobs.
Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said tourist spending could be a main driver of Greece's return to prosperity following the recent financial meltdown.
Spending by holiday visitors to Greece increased 12.6 percent in the first half of 2011 compared with the first six months of last year, according to the Bank of Greece.
Two thirds of gay holidaymakers seek hotels that welcome same-sex couples, according to TUI - the umbrella company for the UK's biggest holiday tour companies such as Thomson and First Choice holiday brands. Last year Thomson began marketing holidays aimed at gay and lesbian tourists.