Although the United States remains the world’s premier destination for gay tourism, according to a report by the consultancy LGTB Capital, Spain receives more than 6.2 million tourists a year from the LGTB collective, which contribute approximately 9,000 million euros per year, a figure that doesn’t stop rising every year and that already exceeds 18% of the total tourist income in our country, considering that the gay population is between 6% and 8% of the world population. And don’t doubt that with these figures Spain is considered one of the most gay friendly countries in the world.
To all this we must add that gay tourism grows at an annual rate of 10.3% compared to 4.8% for general tourism, according to data from the World Travel & Tourism Council and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). And from this cake, already popularly known as “pink money”, the city of Barcelona takes, perhaps, the largest portion … Not in vain have they celebrated this year the tenth anniversary of the Barcelona Circuit Festival, the largest LGBT festival in the world, an event that turns every summer the city of Barcelona into the world’s gay capital.
In its tenth edition, the Circuit Festival Barcelona has had more than 70,000 attendees from 50 countries around the world. Two weeks of fun with a program that offers parties in swimming pools, with the biggest and funniest event of the festival, the Day of the Aquatic Park (which lasts all day and part of the night) in the nearby Illa Fantasia water park, sessions of DJ (with big name performances of the gay scene) and club nights. All in the middle of August and in which each attendee spends an average of 2,000 euros a week and this allows Barcelona merchants to put the finishing touch to a month that already by itself used to be quite loose before the Circuit …
But we must not forget other important events in the city for the LGBT collective, such as the Barcelona Gay Film Festival. During a week of the month of October, films are projected whose arguments revolve around LGBT issues. Or the well-known Pride Barcelona, which revolves around Gay Pride Day. Several days in which different events are organized, including the Pride Parade, a parade full of color and joy. On the verge of reaching a decade next summer, the Pride Barcelona has been consolidated for years as one of the most popular gay pride celebrations in Europe. A massive event – each year brings together more than 250,000 people.
Returning to the issue of the figures that moves this collective in Spain, the gay tourism report by the World Tourism Organization and IGLTA (International Gay, Lesbian and Transsexual Association) shows that destinations with LGBT tourism contribute to social progress and normalization. The UNWTO Secretary General, Talib Rifai, points out that “LGBT tourism has experienced continuous growth, and is now widely recognized as an important and promising segment of tourism around the world. It can be a powerful vehicle for economic development, social inclusion and the competitiveness of tourist destinations”.
But the epicenter of Barcelona gay leisure is the popularly called Gayxample (a kind of acronym for Gay and Eixample, the name of the district of the city of Barcelona, which occupies the central part of the city, in a large area of 7,46 km² that was designed by Ildefonso Cerdá). Or, what has been the same, that fictitious rectangle that delimits the streets Balmes and Comte d’Urgell with the Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes and the Aragó street. In this Chueca of Barcelona we find shops and restaurants of all kinds, travel agencies specializing in LGTB travel, gay friendly or exclusive hotels for gays, bars, clothing stores and all kinds of establishments where you can enjoy the soul of Gayxample.
Enjoying the neighborhood by day is not difficult at all. A few beers and tapas in the Bim Bar cafeteria or cocktails on the terrace of the Botanic Bar Café. Have breakfast at the Osbar enjoying your exhibitions or round tables in English! To eat: the Neo Restaurant Bar, or the fusion cuisine of Machín. To go shopping: Nosotr@s, a multi-space where you can find all kinds of original gifts and the best books in Barcelona; Ritual, a clothing store with Italian design; Hallellujah, for those who seek a more Zen life …
Neither can we forget the hotels: The Axel Hotel, the first hotel that claims to be hetero-friendly; TWO Hotel Barcelona, with swimming pool, health treatments and a total of 87 rooms; the Hotel Soho, with a modern design in which there is no shortage of works of art by some artists such as Alfredo Arribas, Franc Aley and Verner Panton; the H10 Casanova Hotel, with four stars and its own spa, called Despacio Spa Center; Hostal Amra, which has from single rooms to quadruples.
A classic of the night in the neighborhood is Dietrich Gay Theater Café. And, of course, the Arena nightclub (a set of bars located throughout the gayxample). In the Sala Madre Arena you also have nights with striptease. But since the Arena room opened its doors at the beginning of the eighties, things have changed a lot, because today the locals in the area have come out a lot of competition outside the margins of the famous “pink rectangle” …
The offer of leisure specifically for homosexuals in Barcelona has expanded throughout practically all its neighborhoods (in the Raval bars such as the Zelig or La Casa de la Pradera, and in Poble Sec La Federica). And to this we must add the wide range of parties outside the pink demarcation par excellence: from the Churros con Chocolate (which is celebrated monthly in the Sala Apolo on Sundays) or the Ká (in the Sala Plataforma), through the Pop Air, Mordisko, Ultrapop (every Saturday at the Safari Disco Club on Tarragona street), Somoslas or even Ven Tú! (also on Sundays), which gathers both gays and heterosexuals on the dance floor, wanting to say goodbye to the week bathed in vermouth.
The Ensanche is the most populated district of Barcelona and of all Spain in absolute terms (262,485 inhabitants) and the second in relative terms (35,586 inhabitants/km²). The Ensanche district is where you can find some of Barcelona’s most well-known streets and squares, such as Passeig de Gracia, Rambla de Catalunya, Plaça de Catalunya, Diagonal avenue, Aragón street, Gran Vía de the Catalan Cortes, Balmes street, the Ronda de San Antonio, the Ronda de San Pedro, the San Juan promenade, the Sagrada Familia square, the Gaudí square, and at its ends, the square of the Catalan Glorias and the Francesc Macià square. Also, in the Ensanche there are many points of tourist and citizen interest such as the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà, Casa Batlló, the National Theater of Catalonia, the Auditorium of Barcelona, the Monumental Bullring, the Casa de les Punxes, as well as numerous cinemas, theaters, restaurants, hotels and other places of leisure.