The Negative Impacts of Sex Tourism on Travel Industry and Society Kimberley Look Sao Wai
Stephanie Poh Ping Hui
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Sex tourism has been evolving over the years to become the established and lucrative industry it is in the present day. With over six destinations all over the globe known for their sex activities and services, the demand and supply are non-seasonal and not affected by inflations and economic downturns. However, sex tourism carries many negative impacts that adversely affect the travel industry and the society worldwide, namely encouraging the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), causing discrimination, posing moral concerns and leading to crimes and child prostitution. Even though supporters of the industry may argue that the business is indeed beneficial to the economy, this trade remains non-sustainable in the long run due to the detrimental health effects and risks it poses on the sex workers, sex tourists, as well as the environment that such services are performed in. Therefore, the government is strongly advocated to minimize the implications of the industry, or otherwise gradually eradicate the entire trade.
Women parading their bodies in windows resembling fish tanks down the streets of Amsterdam or shooting ping-pong balls out from their vaginas to entertain a crowd in Thailand’s notorious ping-pong show are all results of an established sex tourism industry worldwide. This industry is defined as travel with the main purpose of sex, whether involving sexual intercourse, voyeurism or observation . Due to the nature of sex tourism, the key players in the industry are very broad and indistinct; it encompasses the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transexual) community, prostitutes, escorts, and child sex workers. Nevertheless, the primary service provider in this industry is female sex workers, who provide services ranging from sexual intercourse to performances in nudity, all of which are to entertain a predominantly male audience. Demand and Supply of Sex Tourism Industry
Prideaux, Agrusa, Donlon, and Curran (2004) stated that the emergence of sex industries in both Asia and Europe is to feed the demand of “erotic experiences in an exotic setting” (p. 6). This demand comprises of affluent sex tourists who seek sexual activities and physical stimulation to satisfy their self-actualisation and relaxation needs. They are encouraged to engage in sex activities overseas due to the freedom given by anonymity, as well as the ability to act out their exotic fantasies. With the travel and hospitality industries developing rapidly, such as travel companies introducing exotic itineraries and airlines accessing more remote destinations, a wider range of sex tourists serve to create the growing demand in the sex tourism industry. Thus, according to Kibicho (2005), “tourism development is responsible for sex tourism as it directly creates potential or new entrants to the profession” (p. 124). On the other hand, the supply is largely female sex workers who are uneducated, and need to escape from poverty and broken homes. They have either been conned into or willingly opted for the fastest route to earn money. Many of these workers start out in this industry at a young age and are controlled by pimps. Due to the fear of the consequences of pulling out, they become bounded in this trade for a long time . Success of the Sex Tourism Industry
Throughout the years, the sex industry has proved to be very lucrative in countries that depend strongly on tourism. For example, the end of the 1990s saw Brazil, Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Phillipines and the Carribean Islands rising to claim the title of ‘top sex tourism destinations’ (Bandyopadhyay & Nascimento, 2010). These countries have sex workers who are more oriented towards providing sexual services for the tourist than anything else...
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