In the last two editions of FITUR (International Tourism Trade Fair), Zaragoza has tried to position itself not only as a destination for sports or gastronomic tourism, but also as an attractive and welcoming destination for the LGBT+ community, which already accounts for 10% of tourists internationally.
The manager of Zaragoza Turismo assures that “the character of Zaragoza is welcoming by definition and we are friendly and very loved in the national territory”. He also emphasizes that “Zaragoza is a destination to be taken into account” and that one of its strengths is that “it is a land of understanding, welcoming, in which, regardless of your sexual orientation, you will be warmly welcomed. That is the main value of this city: that it welcomes all visitors regardless of their place of origin, religion, or sexual affective condition”. He assures that any visitor “will be amazed by monuments, cultural events, gastronomy and as the welcoming land that we are”.
“Historically, Aragon has always been a land of pact and miscegenation. Everyone feels at home and that is a value to be transferred not only to the LGBT+ community but to any other segment that can be determined within the arc of visitors,” adds the head of Tourism.
“it is a land of understanding, welcoming, in which, regardless of your sexual orientation, you will be warmly welcomed. That is the main value of this city” Contado Molina
The LGBT+ segment is responsible for approximately 16% of total travel spending, which represents more than 195 billion dollars a year in spending, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. Hence Zaragoza’s commitment to attract this group to the city, something they did through their stand at events such as FITUR or Pride! BCN 2021.
The manager of Zaragoza Turismo, Conrado Molina, assures that “this group invests much more in their tourist experience than the average tourist, something that is supported by data and studies”. In fact, he emphasizes that “the average expenditure per person is much higher than even business tourism, so approaching a segment that generates much more economy is always interesting”.
Molina also emphasizes that “Zaragoza has always been LGBT friendly, regardless of whether or not it is at FITUR, it is not a current trend” and gives as an example long-standing events held in Zaragoza such as Zinentiendo or the Cierzo Games, and highlights the fact that the city is hosting for the first time a leading event in diversity in the workplace, such as LGBT+@Work.
At this year’s FITUR stand, ‘Zinentiendo’ was unveiled, the International Film Festival organized by the Towanda Aragón collective, which already has 17 editions under its belt and features feature films, short films and documentaries on gay, lesbian and transsexual themes, among others.
Víctor Solano, a member of the Zinentiendo organization, assures that “there is a demand from society for the works we screen” and adds that the festival “is fulfilling an important social and political function in two ways”. On the one hand, giving visibility to the diversity of orientations and affections “different from the heteronormative” and, on the other hand, “offering spaces for socialization, meeting and security for the LGBT+ collective within the cultural sphere because there is a demand for spaces in which to socialize, feel at ease and express themselves peacefully”.
Now that Zinentiendo is already a consolidated event, “we are trying to expand the show at an Aragonese level, leaving Zaragoza and traveling to other cities and towns in Aragon because we feel that the need to make other realities visible and create safe spaces are even more urgent for LGBT+ people in the rural world”.
Solana emphasizes that “cinema is a very powerful tool for social change, because it reaches people and helps to create references, which is something that LGBT+ people feel a bit orphaned”.
Regarding the potential of Zaragoza as an attractive destination for LGBT+ tourists, Víctor Solana highlights that “there is no level of aggressiveness, apart from specific cases, and it is a friendly, kind and welcoming city”. In addition, he stresses that “we are experiencing very interesting things in Zaragoza” and cites as an example the spaces of environment that have resisted the pandemic and that fulfill “a very important recreational and social function, which must be valued”.
He also points out the emergence of phenomena such as “Club Sierpe, which is a Drag Queens and drag queens venue, a very fluid concept that is doing a brutal job, it is promising”. He also points out that the vogue scene in Zaragoza “is very powerful, although still somewhat unknown, but they are doing very cool work as the Psícara project that is empowering trans women through vogue”.
In 2021, the Zaragoza stand at FITUR introduced Spanish tourists to the Cierzo Games, an integration project that has reached its 15th edition this year and is organized by the Cierzo proLGBT+ Sports Association, a non-profit elementary sports club that aims to promote sports and achieve the full integration of LGBT+ athletes in our community.
David Lechón, the association’s diversity spokesperson, explains that these games seek to “make the collective visible within society and seek within the sports spectrum diverse referents that do not exist,” Lechón points out. “We want to raise a debate in society: Why in certain sports is it not accepted that players express themselves as they are?” declares Lechón. He emphasizes the need and importance of creating referents for the collective, especially in areas such as sports, where it is still unusual for high-level male and female players to declare themselves openly LGBT+.
The aim of the Cierzo Games is to “make a sporting event bigger and bigger, to make the collective visible as people who can play sports without any other problem”. Lechón assures that, although there are LGBT+ events all over Spain, “we have the largest number of people who repeat and that is a bit because of our open, inclusive and attentive character”.
The event, which usually lasts from Friday to Sunday, welcomes about 400 participants, of which about 85% are from outside Zaragoza.
LGBT+ AT WORK
The manager of Zaragoza Turismo, Conrado Molina, highlights as very positive that an event of such relevance as LGBT+@Work, will be held in Zaragoza this year for the first time. In fact, it is the first time it is being held in a Spanish city other than Madrid.
“That one of the world’s most prestigious events on diversity in the workplace is coming to Zaragoza shows that we are welcoming regardless of any personal circumstances,” Molina notes. It will take place on June 29 and will bring together Spanish executives and managers in the Out of Office in Zaragoza space, with the aim of democratizing diverse and inclusive practices in Spanish companies.
Out of Office (OOO) is a coworking space born from the collaboration between Meliá Hotels International and Grupo Init and its director, Carlos Piñeyroa, points out that this event was born from the search to “create new proposals that have to do with leisure and work. From there, and taking into account that last year Zaragoza was declared a diverse city, we have brought this international event”. It is usually carried out by the Instituto de Empresa in Madrid in English and with international companies, but in Zaragoza it will be in Spanish for executives of the collective with the aim of “showing how showing themselves in their organizations as they are has improved the performance of their company,” says Piñeyroa.
LGBT+@Work seeks to “democratize inclusive practices in companies” and is not only aimed at large multinationals but also for SMEs and startups. The celebration of this event is the beginning of Out Of Office’s strategy to create a quarterly program related to LGBT diversity in the workplace.
Piñeyroa is clear: with events such as Zinentiendo, the Cierzo Games and LGBT+@Work, “Zaragoza is already positioned as a diverse city in terms of sports, culture and now also in terms of business”.