With LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender) tourism a fast-growing market in the tourism industry, it is small wonder that South Africa has opened to hosting many of the key events in the LGBT tourism calendar. As a country well known for celebrating the differences of culture within its own rainbow spectrum of people and beliefs, South Africa is moving with the times, boasting various LGBT friendly accommodations and entertainment hot-spots.
Earlier this year, the Spartacus World Gay Travel Index ranked South Africa the top African destination for LGBT tourists, above even the USA. This is likely due to the many events held annually in South Africa dedicated to celebrating alternative lifestyles, flamboyance and freedom to enjoy life in its many colours. Every major South African city has a festival to mark its support of life as an LGBT individual and community.
While many African countries have been slow to adopt the Western attitudes of indiscriminate acceptance towards alternative lifestyles, South Africa has been a beacon of hope since the birth of its own democracy. It was the first constitution in the world to make discrimination against sexual orientation illegal, and 5th in the world to legalize same-sex marriages. The South African armed forces openly welcome transgender individuals into service, and same-sex couples are able to legally adopt children. With such legal support and cultural diversity, it is no wonder that South African feel free to celebrate sexual diversity in its many beautiful destinations.
Cape Town is the most popular city for LGBT tourists to visit in South Africa. It has a vibrant gay culture local as well as international tourists, flock to this city, regarded as the “gay capital” of Africa. The Mother City was ranked 5th most gay-friendly travel destination in the world in a survey that was conducted by the New York Times and SCRUFF (a gay dating app) in 2016.
Part of Cape Town's popularity among the LGBT tourists is mostly due to its natural beauty, white sandy beaches, mild climate and a strong post-apartheid culture of diversity and acceptance.
De Waterkant is the heart of gay Cape Town, especially when it comes to the entertainment strip of Somerset Road. Here you will find a number of dedicated bars and clubs, as well as the inner-city suburbs of Green Point and Sea Point. This area is also the focal point of the Cape Town Pride festival and is a good place to watch the parade at any time. Some of the other attractions include the city's plenitude of good restaurants and its close proximity to the Winelands of the Boland and Constantia Valley.
Apart from just the annual Cape Town Pride festival, Cape Town also hosts the Mother City Queer Project (heralded as South Africa's favourite costume party) and has been announced as the host for 2019's Mr Gay World competition.
Johannesburg has a thriving LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer) culture. There are plenty of bars and clubs dedicated to honouring the rainbow spectrum of sexuality.
This colourful city also hosts the annual Johannesburg Pride festival, which has become a highlight on the city's calendar, alongside the neighbouring Pretoria's Pride, both gaining popularity in recent years.
Durban is host to their very own popular annual Pride festival, as well as Durban's KwaZulu-Natal Gay and Lesbian Tourism Association, which is paving the way to making this coastal city one of South Africa's top destinations for LGBTQI+ tourism. The Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival also takes place here annually and is a must-see if you are a film enthusiast, part of the LGBT community, or even just interested in an alternative film narrative.
Knysna, fondly referred to as South Africa's “gayest town”, is close to the heart of the beautiful Garden Route. This little town is known for the annual Pink Loerie Mardi Gras & Arts Festival, which was also headlined by the crowning of Mr Gay World 2018. This small but proud town has long been seen as a hot-spot for various alternative lifestyles and opens itself to international tourism of all kinds.
With any number of these events being reason enough to visit the “Rainbow Nation”, be sure to remember that South Africa is in itself a beautiful destination, offering something for everyone, from luxury safaris to cultural tours. We invite you to celebrate diversity and allow More & More Africa to splash some colour in your dream holiday.