Israel's Tourism Ministry has been named the winner in an Expedia competition for innovative campaigns aimed at the LGBT community, a statement by the ministry said on Saturday.
The prize was presented by Expedia, one of the leading online reservation sites in the world, to representatives from the Israel Tourism Ministry at the world's largest travel trade fair in Berlin.
According to the statement, Israel's Tourism Ministry worked with Expedia Media Solutions to make Tel Aviv an LGBT destination for clients from the UK and Italy. Expedia then created 140 exclusive deals aimed at that particular audience followed it up with strong campaigns aimed at promoting other Israeli destinations.
The campaign led to an increase in all target markets, including a 23 percent increase from clients in the UK.
Israeli society is gay friendly, at least in the Tel Aviv area, and some of the legislation and precedent-setting court rulings on gay rights are groundbreaking. But the progress and prominence of the Israeli LGTB community runs counter to the religious underpinnings of Israeli society and clashes continuously with the dramatic march forward of LGBT rights in the West.
Attitudes among those sectors of Israeli society, which view homosexual sex is a violation of Jewish law and morality, have clearly not changed. The same is true for most parties representing Israel's Arab minority, which is still largely a conservative society with a strong Muslim influence.
Aguda, Israel's biggest LGBT rights advocacy organization, released a report in February stating that the center for documenting homophobia received 276 reports between August 2015 and the end of the year of violence, discrimination and other acts of hate against the LGBT community.
According to the center, this represents a 100 percent increase in reported incidents compared with the last reporting period, 2014.
There has been a particularly dramatic increase in the number of expressions of homophobia online, with 6,836 homophobic posts documented on Hebrew-language social media in January 2016 alone.
In July 2015, six people were stabbed by Yishai Shlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, during the annual gay pride parade in Jerusalem. One of them, 16-year-old Shira Banki, later succumbed to her wounds.
Tel Aviv's annual Pride festival has become world-famous and among the thousands of Israelis taking part, thousands of tourists have come from around the globe to celebrate.
See more: Gay-Aviv 2015