Anyone who has been bit by the travel bug is dying to take their next adventure. But where do they start? As a board member of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), and owner of Zoom Vacations, an international gay tour company, I often talk with colleagues and friends about the top destinations we've seen pop up. From my time spent at cocktail parties and conventions, the following is my list of the top ten HOTTEST travel destinations that are appealing most to gay travelers.
1. Rio de Janeiro with its Christ the Redeemer statue, gorgeous beaches, and equally beautiful locals is very popular as always, and now more than ever, since winning the Olympic Bid for 2016!
2. Shanghai is swiftly becoming one of the most modern, sophisticated cities in the world, and its gay community is growing. It is especially in the limelight now because of the World Expo.
3. Machu Picchu is officially my favorite place I have ever been, and it is currently receiving lots of press about how you have to see Machu Picchu now before they limit the areas accessible to visitors.
4. While India hasn't been a hugely popular destination for American tourists, the success of "Slumdog Millionaire" has made the country very intriguing and certainly talked about. The main attraction within India remains the Taj Mahal. There is just something about love defying the odds that appeals to gay travelers!
5. Berlin is hot, hot, hot at the moment. Streets that had grown somber and desolate during the days of the Berlin Wall are now alive with artistic expression. Berlin offers so much to its tourists, from its vibrant nightlife to its innovative artistic scene.
6. Beijing is still of great interest because of Olympics, which were arguably the most ground-breaking of all time. Visitors come to Beijing to see the Bird's nest, but the stay to visit the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and countless sensational restaurants.
7. Hollywood loves Las Vegas, and it remains a talked about and much visited destination globally. The biggest buzz about Vegas is that you don't have to love gambling to love the city, and it's cultural and culinary offerings have something for everyone.
8. Buenos Aires is often called the "Paris" of South America and it enjoys its reputation as one of the world's best bang-for-your-buck cities. Argentineans take great pride in everything they produce, and this is reflected in the wine, food, leather, and steak (this is the land of beef) coming out of the country. The stereotype that gay men love to shop is certainly proven on our trips, and Buenos Aires is a shopper's paradise.
9. Cape Town for years has enjoyed a kind of exotic lore, and it owes it's current popularity to the World Cup and the accessibility to safaris and new hotels opening, like the Taj and One-and-Only.
10. Sydney, Australia is a perennial favorite....with frendly locals, beach culture, good restaurants, great hotels, lots of unique excursions and activities, it has it all. Adventure seekers can't top the bridge climb, and whether you love performing arts or not, it is pretty tough to not be impressed by the Sydney Opera House. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is an event not to be missed!
If I could pick an 11th, I would choose Paris. Based on the buzz I hear as I travel, Paris remains one of the world's leading gay tourist destinations. It's one of those places that when you tell people you are going there, they are instantly jealous.
There are plenty of incredible places to visit that do not receive the attention they deserve, so never limit your travel to simply the places you hear about. For instance, I love bringing people to Guatemala, because once guests arrive, you hear "wow" more than almost any other destination. Check out the ruins of Tikal, Antigua, Lake Atitlan, and the city of Chichicastenango.
Bryan Herb works for Zoom Vacations, a global gay vacation company offers gay group and independent trips all over the world. You can find more information on their website at www.zoomvacations.com
or call 866 966-6822.