Does it really take more than being named Lesbos to make your island getaway a destination for gay tourists? Yes but the branding helps. This year’s 10th annual International Women’s Festival is located in the island’s Eressos village. German, British, Dutch and Scandinavian sapphic ladies are traveling to Lesbos for the celebration. It includeds: “women-only walks and sunset cruises, breathing and drumming workshops, Greek dance classes and lesbian film screenings.” This is no small accomplishment. When the event launched in 2000, Eressos’ mayor of the heavily Greek Orthodox community, threatened to sue organizers and cast out the lesbians. Now us dykes have our run of the place.
Lesbian holidaymakers have been coming to Lesbos since the 1970s. Thet have been attracted by the island’s association with
Sappho. Sappho is the seventh century Greek poet who wrote about her love for women and was born in Eressos.
According to the Sappho Travel Agency, lesbians now make up 60% of visitors to the village and rises to 90% in September when the festival takes place.
“My rooms are full for the next two weeks. We’d usually be dead in September, but now it’s booming,” says Andreas, who runs the Sappho cafe bar and rents rooms on the village seafront.
As the economic crisis continues to pinch he says Greek holidaymakers spent less this summer and he is grateful for the extended season brought by lesbian tourism.