South America’s Hippest Airline, ND’s New Homotropolis, And Going Gay At The World’s Largest Travel Show

Gay travelers, rejoice: This week we launch Travelicious, a GayCities/Queerty co-feature covering the latest and juiciest in LGBT travel news, as dissected by veteran gay travel writer Dan Allen.

In this first edition, we fly with Pam Ann (above) at Berlin’s massive ITB travel show, check in with Fargo as it looks to lure the pink dollar, and board LAN Airlines’ new gay South America microsite.

Click through for more Traveliciousness!


Dontcha Know, Gurl
Fargo tourism reaches out to the gays

You’ve done New York, West Hollywood and San Francisco. You’ve even worn out the second-tier queer circuit like Portland, Austin, and Asheville.

So what’s next for the irrepressible gay traveler?

Apparently, Fargo. Or so the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau would like you to consider.

With a metro population of just over 200,000, a climate that’s not exactly balmy, and a gay culture that’s still gelling, you might well wonder: Why Fargo?

Probably for one of two reasons, said David Paisley, senior projects director for Community Marketing, in a recent interview with the Fargo news site Inforum. Like many mid-sized American cities, says Paisley, Fargo serves as a cultural hub for regional gay residents, but it can also be a fresh travel alternative for far-flung gays who’re seeking something new.

Furthermore, it’s gay-friendly here, say locals. “I’ve never felt that I’ve had to hide who I was,” Jamie Coston-Hirsch told Inforum. Coston-Hirsch is the head of the Pride Collective and Community Center in Moorhead, Fargo’s Minnesotan twin across the Red River.

For now, the concept of gay and lesbian travel in North Dakota’s biggest city is “a small part of our marketing budget,” says Cole Carley, president of the Fargo-Moorhead CVB. “But this is something that we’re supporting.”

We wish them much luck—and if all else fails in targeting our special travel niche, we humbly suggest that there might be some not-so-subtle gay marketing opportunities lurking in the “Moorhead” moniker.

Fargo Moorhead Pride, better known to locals as just FM Pride, runs August 9 to 12.

Photo by mrbula

Unconventional Convention
Gay lessons from the world’s largest travel show

For all the apparent similarities, gay travel is just, well, a little different than straight travel.

When gay travel awards get doled out, for instance, a bit of tongue-in-cheek is usually involved.

And so it was when German airline Lufthansa received the Mate Travel Award last week at ITB (International Tourism Exchange), the world’s biggest annual travel trade show, which ran from March 7 to March 11 in Berlin.

Raunchy flight attendant Pam Ann presented the prize, and schooled the audience on the virtues of the German airline:

“In first class, they have slings,” joked the saucy stewardess. “And they f*ck you.”

The shenanigans were all part of a swanky soiree co-hosted by hip German mag Mate and gay travel portal TomOnTour at Berlin’s PanAm Lounge (named for the erstwhile airline, not the comedian), just one of many lively LGBT parties thrown during this year’s ITB.

This year’s show, held as always within Berlin’s massive Messe convention center, saw its largest-ever gay presence, with return exhibitors joined by a host of new companies from across the world.

IGLTA (the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association) once again anchored what’s become known as ITB’s gay pavilion, with members representing the U.S., Greece, Portugal, Chile, Poland, France, and India. ITB veterans like TomOnTour, SpartacusJackwerth Verlag, and Argentina’s GMaps360 were here, too, alongside new gay presences like Brazil’s Embratur.

The city of Vienna hosted a “Gay Café,” which launched with an opening-day reception attended by openly gay Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit (in photo, at far right).

Other gay-geared ITB happenings included a packed panel discussion on gay travel and its influence on the mainstream market.

In all, more than 170,000 trade and consumer visitors streamed through Berlin Messe for ITB this year to wander the 10,000+ booths from 187 countries. Next year’s show will take place from March 6 to 10.

Photo by IGLTA

The South Rises
Chile’s LAN Airlines launches LGBT microsite

Quick, what was the first South American airline to advertise specifically to the gay and lesbian market? Or the only South American airline to have been nominated as best in the world by both Edge and Logo’s TripOutGayTravel? And now, the first South American carrier to offer a dedicated LGBT travel microsite?

The answer on all counts is LAN, the fab Chilean airline that’s grown and upgraded by leaps and bounds over the last few years to become the preferred carrier across the entire southern continent.

Offering up gobs of news, info, and resources for gay travelers to South America, LAN’s new LGBT site,, also features travel packages from top gay tour operators to the myriad exciting destinations served by the airline, including not only hotspots like Buenos Aires, Santiago, Lima, Bogota, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro, but also magical outposts like Easter Island, the Galapagos Islands, and Machu Picchu.

“If you’re traveling to Buenos Aires, not only can you purchase your ticket from the online booking engine, but you can read current news relating to LGBT topics in that region,” says Katitiza Mandakovic, LAN’s leisure director for North America, of the microsite. “We pride ourselves on being South America’s premier airline, and our new LGBT travel site is a way to create an even better travel experience for gay and lesbian travelers.”

Watch LANdiversity in the coming months for unique sweepstakes and specials on travel to South America via LAN and its affiliates.

Photo by John Steven Fernandez

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