Welcome to Insider Out Travel, a blog about LGBT travel written by LGBT tourism professionals. Travel the globe and gain insight into the tourism industry (with a gay twist), brought to you by the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

IGLTA Members Join Forces in Latin America to Develop Market Research

By Roy Heale
At a news conference today in Buenos Aires it was announced that the first LGBT market research in Latin America will be expanded substantially beyond the original plans. It will now include Brazil, Uruguay,Chile and Argentina. This first market research in South America will investigate the habits and lifestyles of more LGBT people than originally considered. It had previously been announced that the Market Study Gay 2010 by IGLTA Members Out Now + GNETWORK360 would survey gays and lesbians living in Argentine territory.

Today at the news conference held at the Axel Hotel Buenos Aires, the organizers of the study revealed that there will be a far greater scope for this new LGBT market study. It will now include gays and lesbians in Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay in addition to Argentina residents. Ian Johnson, CEO of Out Now, indicated the decision to expand research on this scale was logical. "Out Now works in countries around the world," said Johnson. "When we looked at the region of Latin America it became obvious that there was a strong need for information to be provided through studies of this kind. Now we confirm that this need is equally important in Brazil, Uruguay, and Chile as it is in Argentina.”

It was also announced by Johnson that the gay and lesbian marketing agency will open its first office in the region---Out Now Latin America---which will be based in Buenos Aires. "We are delighted that Pablo De Luca and Gustavo Noguera---the creators of GNETWORK360, the organization's most successful business networking for the GLBT community---join us as consultants for Out Now Latin America,” Johnson said." Both De Luca and Noguera, are intelligent professionals dedicated and committed to Out Now. This will surely prove to be really beneficial for the more than 12 million gays and lesbians living in the region in which we are now starting to work.”

Out Now was founded in 1992 in Australia and works in markets around the world with many corporate clients including IBM, Toyota, Volvo, Hilton, KLM, Lufthansa, VisitSweden, German National Tourist Board, Barclays Bank and Citibank. The future services of Out Now Latin America will include research, strategic consulting, advertising, public relations, and staff training.

GNETWORK360 is a business to business event held annually for three days in Buenos Aires. According to Noguera "More than 650 people gather each year to share information, workshops, presentations and discussion panels plus learn about new business opportunities within the LGBT market segment. De Luca stated, "Out Now and GNETWORK360 share the conviction that a better understanding of gays and lesbians helps businesses and other organizations to a greater awareness of the issues that concern our community assisting to create products and services in order to meet or resolve these issues in the most effective way to improve the lives of our community. "
For More Information Visit: http://www.gnetwork360.com/

Halloweek Heats Up Toronto

by Dan Allen

Just in time to beat the northern fall chill, 2009 IGLTA Convention host city Toronto heats up this week for the Church and Wellesley Village’s third official Halloweek, a full slate of ghoulish costumes, garish parties, and – natch – a girlish drag queen or 200.

Village mainstay Woody’s (along with its nautically named next-door brother bar Sailor) will host Wednesday night’s much-anticipated Queen of Halloween drag competition. Ambrose Price, he of Logo’s The Decorating Adventures of Ambrose Price (originally an HGTV Canada show), will serve as a guest judge this year.

Late costume planners can load up on get up for the weekend at Thursday evening’s Church Street Drag and Leather Boo-zaar and Psychic Fair (held at George’s Play), where wigs and costumes galore will be on sale. Proceeds benefit Toronto’s PWA (People with AIDS Foundation).

On Friday Ambrose Price is back to help judge the Church Street Jack O’Lantern Carving Contest, hosted by outdoorsy gay group Out and Out Toronto and held on the west side of Church Street, south of Wellesley between Cafe California and Zelda’s. Pumpkins are free and ready for carving.

Of course the big day is Saturday the 31st, which kicks off at noon in Cawthra Square Park (just north of Wellesley) with Pride Toronto’s Hallowe’en Party. All afternoon and into the evening, there’ll be live performances by DJs, drag queens and Village celebrities, culminating in a costume contest hosted by Canadian drag superstar Sofonda Cox. The winner will appear on the 11 p.m. edition of CTV (that’s Canadian Television, eh?) news. Proceeds go to Pride Toronto’s 2010 International Human Rights Program.

The craziness continues for the massive Halloweek Block Party, when from 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., five blocks of Church Street will be closed to traffic to make way for the throngs of revelers (last year’s crowd was estimated at 55,000). Bars and restaurants all along the strip host special events, turning it into a night so fun, it’s positively scary.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Novel Way to "Cruise" Downtown St. Petersburg

New York has its subways, and San Francisco has trolleys. Well, check it out...St. Petersburg’s got Segways, and if you’re looking for a super fun easy way to get introduced to the bay side downtown area, riding a Segway may just be for you.

Using computer and gyroscope technology, these two wheel electric vehicles are based on the rider’s balance. They go forward when you lean forward, and reverse when you lean back. Sounds a little tricky, but it’s not.

First, a little bit about downtown St. Pete. Forget that blue hair vision you’ve had all these years. St.Pete is hip.

There are several long time venues that have served as anchors for the LGBT community. The Hideaway (http://www.myspace.com/thehideawaygirls), bills itself as the “oldest lesbian bar in the USA” having celebrated its 40th anniversary this past June. Take it up a notch at A Taste for Wine (http://www.tasteforwine.net/), a sophisticated, yet relaxed spot right on Central Avenue that serves fine wines and beer.

There’s also Georgie’s Alibi (http://www.georgiesalibi.com/stpeteevents.aspx), a café and sports/video bar, another long-time favorite, and the place to be during Pride month, particularly the day of the St. Pete Pride parade (http://www.stpetepride.com/), the largest in Florida, attracting more than 75,000 people this past June.

Other venues include the Gemini Lounge (http://www.myspace.com/gemini_lounge), Club Nautico (http://www.nauticostpete.com/), the Queens Head Restaurant (http://thequeensheadbar.com/home), and Kahwa Coffee Roasting Company (http://www.kahwacoffee.com/about.htm).

Perhaps the best thing to come to St. Pete in the last few months is the Flamingo Resort (http://www.flamingofla.com/), a brand spanking new hotel catering to the LGBT community, and easily accessible to downtown (as well as the beach).

So after you’ve checked into your digs, and before you check out the night scene, cruising the downtown shoreline via Segway is a must (talk about a new way to cruise the streets). David Boston, owner of the guided Segway tours company Gyroglides (http://www.gyroglides.com/) takes groups of up to six people on a several mile tour of Bay Shore Drive, pointing out all the landmarks along the way, with comedy, folklore, gossip and all (no prior experience needed; call ahead for reservations 727-896-3640). After retiring from a 20 year graphics design career with NBC, Boston, 54, moved to Florida with his partner, performer/writer Wilson Loria (http://www.wilsonloria.com/home.htm), five years ago and took over the Segway biz earlier this year.

“It's a new feeling--something you haven't experienced before, like a new sensation for your body to experience,” Boston told us before we took off. “You can be near the water and see a lot of dolphins and boats, and then in just a couple minutes be going through the palm arboretum, and then touring through the old northeast neighborhood looking at great houses.”

It’s all about an adventurous spirit and a little confidence, he told us.

True enough. No one choked, none of us fell, and we all had a blast cruising!

Sheryl Kay is a freelance print and photo journalist, and a contributing editor at CURVE Magazine.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Our Gay Hollywood Adventures with Out & About Tours

Last Friday, a group of us had the opportunity to attend the "Pre-Tour" of the upcoming LGBT gay history bus tour that Out & About Tours is putting together here in West Hollywood, making its debut for Halloween 2009!

Offering an in-depth yet entertaining look at LGBT history and its hotspots not found in your average LA travel guide, we undertook one hell of a fun "journey" through LGBT history beginning with LA's pre-Spanish settlement era, continuing through the Golden Age of Hollywood, the gay rights movement of the 60s & 70s and ending in present day.

We began in West Hollywood, continued on through Downtown LA, via Echo Park and Silverlake and then returned through Hollywood. We saw it all... from LA's first gay porn theatre to a Judy Garland performance at The Other Side piano bar in Silverlake. We even had a chance to enjoy a cocktail there as well!

From their website, here are some of the tour highlights:
  • Join Out & About Tours as they share with guests the first footfalls of the Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade which occurred on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and McCadden Place in June of 1970.

  • Out & About Tours uncovers LA’s more seedy side of life, as guests tour past Merced Theatre, LA’s first porn theatre from the 1880’s.

  • Guests will swing by one of the last gay piano bars for a cocktail, a song or two and a fascinating five minute clip from a documentary of the same name, “The Other Side: A Queer History” by Jane Cantillon.

  • Was “Stonewall” really the first gay uprising? Out & About Tours will ask guests to share a moment of silence at the site of LA’s “Stonewall,” two years before the riots occurred in New York City. The LA incident fueled many things, including the iconic magazine “The Advocate,” one of the world’s oldest LGBT publications, still in publication today.

  • Many are aware of the phrase “Lipstick Lesbian.” Out & About Tours will take guests past the famous lesbian bar that coined the phrase and changed the way that gay woman dressed and conducted themselves publicly. The patrons of Peanuts on Santa Monica Boulevard put a new twist on the term “liberated woman.”

  • It’s no secret that LA has a heavy Spanish influence but do Angelenos and tourist a-like really know where it all began? Out & About Tours will stop off at “El Pueblo” just outside of Olvera Street in Downtown LA and pay homage to some of the oldest public structures in the area and share with guests their significance in gay history.

  • No tour of LA is complete without a jaunt on the world-famous Sunset Strip; Out & About Tours will show guests the location of the first openly gay bar of the area and show how it influenced the feel and shape of all gay bars thereafter.

  • While the All-American white-boys were building a thriving “Boy’s Town” in the city that is now known as West Hollywood, LGBT Latinos and African American were dancing to the beat of their own drums in other parts of town. Out & About Tours will point out significant venues.

  • If it’s more dirt that guests are looking for, Out & About Tours will show them LA’s oldest bathhouse that still operates today and once hosted many a closeted movie star.

  • Out & About Tours will explore the complex gay underground scene during Tinseltown’s Golden Age for those guests who want the skinny on gay Hollywood.

  • While touring through the eclectic city of Silverlake, Out & About Tours will salute the house high on a hill that hosted the first meeting of the gay movement in America.

  • Out & About Tours prides itself in the fact that their comprehensive and entertaining tour contains more than 100 points of interest.

The tour itself runs on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as every other Friday. It departs from the ONE Archives Gallery & Museum in West Hollywood (which is a treat unto itself). From Out & About Tours, "the tour enlightens, educates and encourages riders to reflect on how history has shaped today’s gay-experience."

Check out this video we made from our trip, at:

Their most recent article:

Their official website:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Win a trip to Montreal!

To learn more and enter the contest, click here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Even the sunsets are pink in Cape Town!

by Brian Kruger, Cape Info Africa

The sun sets over an azure sea with shades of pink that defy description and can only be captured second best in a picture. As this happens, the Mother City awakens from the afternoon siesta to the sound of crockery clattering around various kitchens, from the most boisterous eateries to the sophisticated clinking of cutlery from any of the most sophisticated world class venues.

And all this is just an hour into your journey. What other delights are there to inspire you, make you fall in love or just while away the hours with a good book on a crisp white sandy beach.

Cape Town is a city of great contrasts from the ragged peaks of the surrounding mountains to the edifice of Table Mountain as it watches over this cosmopolitan playground. But one of the greatest features of the City is its liberal attitude. It’s a melting pot of cultures and makes for a rich diversity of experiences.

In between all this hustle and bustle a thriving gay life is also at hand to tease and titivate even the most jaded tourist. There is always something new around the next corner. From the intimacy of the gay and gay friendly restaurants to the throbbing beats found in an assortment of bars and clubs which are all located within walking distance of each other.

Even for the single traveler this city has much to offer. The locals welcome foreigners with open arms ready to discover and explore other cultures. There is a huge choice of accommodation as well which will suit any tourist. Gay owned and operated guest houses and boutique hotels to the ultimate in 5 star luxury of the Waterfront hotels all are there for the taking thereby catering to all tastes and budgets.

The City also plays host to a number of gay events throughout the year from Gay Pride in February to the annual Gay and Lesbian Film Festival which takes place around September each year.

This year another festival has been planned to once again place Cape Town at the forefront of gay tourism in Africa and dare we say the world at large.

The Rainbow Festival will be a 5 day event that begins with a street carnival and massive circuit party to bus tours in the picturesque winelands, a boat cruise and culminates in a beach picnic to end off the festivities. It promises to deliver a world class experience and hopefully will grow into a yearly celebration of gay culture. This year is the 60th anniversary of the release of the Wizard of Oz and has been chosen as the theme for the Festival in honour of this iconic film.

Then, as if this wasn’t enough, a Gay Lifestyle Expo – the first of its kind anywhere in the world – is planned for April 2010. So as you can see it’s not just the Soccer World Cup it’s the golden chalice that awaits you then. This expo will encompass all that makes up for our lifestyles from décor to fashion, cars and everything else in between too.

I have just scraped the tip of the iceberg here, so make that booking now to come and see for yourself! Then you won’t have to gaze at a picture of those famous pink sunsets – you can see it for yourself and take your own pictures that will remind you of the pinkest sunsets you’re ever likely to see.

Monday, October 19, 2009

IGLTA Reception in Buenos Aires

By Roy Heale
Recently many LGBT travelers have discovered the great vacation bargain which Buenos Aires offers in today's difficult economic climate. Many airlines and accommodations have been promoting special tariffs for this holiday season as Spring begins in South America. And Buenos Aires is already recognized as one of the hot new gay vacation meccas where the cost of living is much lower than North American and European prices. It truly is the best place at the moment for lower cost vacations without sacrificing any of those great holiday memories.
Therefore it was very fitting that last Thursday evening, the 15th. October, IGLTA hosted an industry networking gathering at Sky Bar in the Buenos Aires Axel Hotel. The event was open to all IGLTA Members, friends in the tourism industry, and LGBT tourism professionals. Just over fifty attendees experienced one-on-one contact with IGLTA staff and members during the event. Mr Tom Nibbio, the IGLTA Manager of Global Partnership Development, was introduced to all attendees by the IGLTA Ambassador to Argentina, Alfredo Ferreyra. Together they gave a short presentation about the organization and its membership benefits.
Existing members networked with each other plus potential new members were able to ask questions about IGLTA membership criteria,costs and advantages. Many old friends were re-united and some new relationships were forged for the future. It was a very good opportunity for members of the travel industry to discuss their thoughts or concerns about the upcoming high-season for travel in Latin America. There appeared to be great optimism about the upcoming tourism period despite the worldwide economic downturn. Several members felt that Spring was off to a good early start after a slower than usual winter season.
Do your research now and enjoy the great vacation bargains available in Argentina with IGLTA members.
For more travel stories by Roy Heale visit: www.royheale.blogspot.com

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Gay Side of North Carolina

By Aaron Riggins

The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau hosted an IGLTA FAM for about 30 people in September, and it definitely opened my eyes to the area's LGBT-welcoming attitude and overwhelming friendliness. Charming Chapel Hill is the type of place where people seem startled if you don't greet them with a big smile and wave – a bit of culture shock for this D.C. resident!

The city is surprisingly liberal with great quality of life (and an openly gay city council member, too). Down-home Southern cooking took a starring role in our tour, particularly at Crook's Corner where we enjoyed a meal of cold fried chicken, aka "the church picnic." At A Southern Season, we were treated to culinary lessons in a studio worthy of a Food Network show. (They had cameras projecting the chef's moves onto TVs for easier viewing.) Next to the cooking school is A Southern Season's jaw-dropping warehouse of a gourmet market, kind of like a Whole Foods on steroids.

I stayed at The Carolina Inn, which was built in 1924 to provide comfortable accommodations to University of North Carolina alumni and later restored as an elegant hotel. It was like being transported back in time. When cocktail hour beckoned, a group of us went to the Orange County Social Club in neighboring Carrboro. This bohemian town is full of art studios, music venues and coffeehouses and has an equally liberal vibe. In fact, Amanda Ashley, who puts the "T" in LGBT, is running for Carrboro mayor this year.

If you've never thought about North Carolina as a gay destination, it's time to think again.