A large group of media from around the world has been hosted by South African Tourism over the last week, in a bid to “showcase South Africa as an LGBTQI-friendly country.”
Original article by www.travel.sapeople.com – Almost 20 social media influencers, bloggers, writers, photographers and travel trade were brought from Canada, USA, Brazil, Mexico, UK, Germany, Netherlands and Japan. They visited Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Cape Town during the tour that highlighted “LGBTQI history and culture.”
The gay pride flag of South Africa, registered as the flag of the GLBTI Association of South Africa in 2012. Photo: Wikipedia.
Despite arguably the most liberal constitution for LGBTQI people – appropriately, SA Tourism took the group to Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, where they were addressed by retired ConCourt judge and activist Edwin Cameron – South Africa still has a way to go to attract an industry said to be worth over $200 billion a year.
Cape Town, which is sometimes seen as a gay destination over Christmas and New Year, was not among the top 20 LGBTQI destinations in the blog Gay Travel’s list for 2019, which included Puerto Vallarta, New York, Tel Aviv and San Francisco.
In a recent post on their travel site Nomadic Boys, run by Stefan and Sebastien, a French/Greek gay couple from London, they listed South Africa as 20th in a list of the 25 most gay-friendly countries in the world, out of 100 countries they or their correspondents had been to. It came in just below the USA but above Australia and Ireland.
“South Africa really makes itself count as being the only African country represented on this list,” they said. Johannesburg’s pride event “has been nicknamed the “Pride of Africa“ because it is the largest (and one of the fewest) in the entire continent.” (The couple themselves, ironically, have not traveled to South Africa yet.)
Among the members of the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association, founded in 1983, are South African Tourism, the Marmalade Toast travel agency, Ntsako Travel Africa, the Liz McGrath Collection (which has hotels like Cellars-Hohenhort, The Marine and The Plettenberg), Cape Town Tourism, KwaZulu Natal Gay and Lesbian Tourism Association and Rhino Africa Safaris.
For LGBTQI people coming to South Africa, we have drawn up a list of tips, ideas and resources.
Although not known as a gay district, De Waterkant/Greenpoint is the most gaycentric in Cape Town, with bars and the Point Virgin Active gym being some of the focal points. Clifton Third Beach is a gathering point too.
A well-known and popular gay hotel in Sea Point is the Glen Boutique Hotel. Ellerman House and the Belmond Mount Nelson are members of IGLTA+, as are the Liz McGrath Collection and several safari lodges.
Couple of Men bloggers Karl and Daan split their Cape Town trip into two, doing the Atlantic side and then the False Bay coastline, where they stayed at Rovos Rail’s St. James Homestead.
Great resources for what’s on and things to do in the main centres – queer film festivals, health information, hiking groups, alternative theatre, bars, tea dances and more – can be found at Mamba Online, the Pink Tongue and Exit.
Couple of Men on Rovos Rail. Photo: Couple of Men.
One of the world’s top five-star luxury train services that does everything from short trips to the Victoria Falls or from Cape Town to Dar es Salaam over 15 days, Rovos recently carried a story by Karl and Daan, a German-Dutch couple with a travel blog, Couple of Men, who took the luxury train from Namibia to Pretoria.
While there are operators specialising in LGBTQI tours and safaris, such as Out2Africa and Wild Rainbow Africa Safaris, safari in South Africa isn’t exclusionary, except, that is, if you happen to be a child under 12.
As one well-known safari agent in America said, she treated LGBTQI clients no differently when it came to booking lodges and safaris.
“There is never a problem with gay people on safari. What I would do differently is choose restaurants that my gay friends love, if that’s appropriate, or accommodations that I think they might prefer. But I do this for everyone.”
Jamala Madikwe, Royal Portfolio and Londolozi are all members of IGLTA+.
An advertisement for a gay safari for early 2020.
The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival, which has been going for 20 years in Knysna, on the Garden Route, is (after last year’s event was cancelled) scheduled for 26 April-3 May 2020.
It is a celebration of LGBTQ culture and identity, with its own version of Wigstock, a bear fest, a marathon, half marathon, triathlon, forest cycle and forest walk, an art exhibition and a social outreach.
On the same dates as the Pink Loerie, it was announced this week, the Mr Gay World and Mr Gay World All Stars 2020 event will be held in Knysna and Port Elizabeth.