We sat down with Nadav Peretz, an entrepreneur offering LGBT travelers a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the vibrant gay life in Israel. Peretz visited South Florida in partnership with the World Out Games, coming to Miami in 2017. His company, OUTstanding Travel, brings high quality travel services to gay and lesbian travelers without comprising sophistication and style.
How many people did OUTstanding Travel host in Israel this past year?
In 2015, we hosted close to 1,500 clients offering them tailor made and curated travel experiences.
How did you get the idea for this company?
I worked many years in public relations for Israel. I was already dealing in a lot of different ways with Israeli PR and people who visit Israel. And then two years ago, I was in London, my friends were asking what there is to do in Israel, when to come, what’s the best way to see it. I then had the idea to open something for the LGBT community who wants to come to Israel and experience the vibrant gay life. So I came to Israel and I found an amazing business partner to start OUTstanding Travel.
What type of experiences does your company offer travelers?
Most of our clients come for individual or couples trip. We also offer guarantee departure where people can register to join a group trip. For 2016 we will offer five group trips. You can meet people from around the world and experience Israel. The first few hours it can be awkward but 24 hours later, everyone becomes friends. It really is amazing to see.
What can people expect from their trip?
What we do is very special and unique. Every gay guy can come and experience Israel. It doesn’t matter their age or budget. Tel Aviv is of course the highlight for gay tourists but they see more than just that. Israel is an amazing place. It is so small and you can see so much of it in a week, from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, Galilee, El’ad, you can jump to Petra and Jordan. It is a very unique place with over 3,000 years of history.
We have gay and lesbian guides that lead tours not only during the day at historical sights, but also after the sun sets. We show them the gay nightlife of Tel Aviv. We stay at very nice gay friendly hotels. We make sure that every person has the best experience. It’s very personal.
What are some obstacles you have had to overcome?
Some people still feel like it’s not safe. That it’s very religious. It’s not the right place for gays. I get it from some clients before they come. The first day in Israel it is something that always happens to me. They meet me and they laugh at what they thought only a few hours ago before they got on the plane. After they land, it is something that changes instantly once they see it is open, you can walk hand in hand to see the city, and it is super liberal and fun and very welcoming for gays.
Most people now know Tel Aviv is a gay mecca. I think we have done a good job in the past ten years to show that Tel Aviv is very special. Not only of course in Middle Eastern terms but all over the world. Even if you compare it to liberal cities in America or Canada, it is in the same category. Like Toronto, San Francisco or New York or Miami and Fort Lauderdale, it is super gay friendly.
What’s next for you and your company?
We are going to expand to five new countries – Brazil, Greece, South Africa, Argentina and Thailand. It is going to be at the same level as Israel. Same branding and quality of experience. I am going to countries where it is a bit more difficult – where LGBT travelers may be unsure on how to travel there. So someone waits for you at the airport. Speaks English. Makes it the best possible experience for gay travelers when they come to these far off places.