Pride events in Tel Aviv lure thousands of LGBT tourists, from all over the world, to Israel, coming to celebrate Pride in the LGBT capital of the Middle East. Most of them stay in Tel Aviv, and hop on short excursions to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea or the Sea of Galilee. Those who choose to stay urban and have a sizzling hot summer vacation, pack up the testosterone filled Hilton Beach – the only gay beach in the city.
Gaash Express, a new initiative by Erez Bialer, is offering gay tourists coming for Tel Aviv Pride events, to hop away from the city life for a moment and enjoy the non-urban spectacular (natural and naturist) view in Gaash Beach.
Bialer, 33, is a campaign manager and a facebook advertising advisor to brands, and for the past seven years has also been writing about gay and regular tourism for "City Mouse" online and print magazine. After producing gay excursions to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea in the past, this year he chose to focus on Gaash Beach.
"To my opinion, Gaash is one of the most beautiful beaches along the central coast line, left virgin and natural, and you can really feel what it used to look like in ancient times", explains Bialer, "I think it looks like some sort of remote filming location for "Game of Thrones". The option I'm offering, for tourists or locals, is a comfortable, air-conditioned, round trip bus ride, up exactly to the location where you descend down to the beach through the reservoir. In fact – I'm offering them a visit to Hof HaSharon Nature reserve"
Do you think there will be a demand for it?
"I hope there will be. I know that for me, and for many of my friends, this is one of the most magical places in the entire country – where you can truly be one with nature, and in a super gay-friendly naturist environment. In any case, today, even if gay tourists visiting Tel Aviv have heard of Gaash Beach and want to visit – unfortunately they don't have the option. Not once nor twice friends, and tourists visiting, have to pay ridiculous amounts for a private taxi, rent a car (which becomes very expensive and sometimes impossible if you are under the age of 24), or take public transportation and walk for 4 km through fields and dunes in the scorching sun"
How do you respond to complaints about the price?
"I would like to emphasize this: Gaash Express is not done for profit. If I wanted to profit from bus rides for tourists I would turn to riding Christian pilgrims, coming to dip in the holy Jordan river – there is a lot more money there. I would just like to create a reasonably-priced solution to the gay visitor in Israel, interested in experiencing this magical local hidden gem. I would be happy if the government considered steps to reduce the outrageous prices we pay here unnecessarily (over petrol for example). In this case – I'm truly humbled"
Aren’t you afraid that commercializing this site will harm its unique character?
"I'm actually in the opinion that the more we deepen to develop the site (while still maintaining its nature reserve status of course) the more inviting and clean it will be. The sad truth about the main problem in Gaash Beach is that it is always very dirty, even after a few cleaning days, one of them I threw myself with my friends. We might initiate another cleaning day because it is very sad to see this exquisitely beautiful beach so dirty. Why is it so hard for people to pick up after themselves? In any case – there are very few tickets available so it is hardly commercializing.
Tickets are available in Gaash Express website