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Sex Tourism: Features, Effects, and Control Essay


Sex tourism is one of the main features of market for various tourist destinations around the globe. Some of the major destinations where sex tourism booms include Bangkok, Amsterdam, Cape Town, Mombasa, and Dublin. Specifically, sex tourism is rampant in third world countries. Countries like Kenya, Costa Rica, Cambodia, Thailand and Brazil have been mentioned consistently concerning sex tourism. Of great interest is the fact that both male and female tourists are actively involved in sex tourism. Sex tourism has become a global issue because of its link to human trafficking and drug abuse. Moreover, countries where prostitution is illegal have also faced challenges in managing sex tourism. For instance, Kenya has found sex tourism challenging because prostitution is illegal in the country. On the other hand, countries like Thailand have created ways of managing sex tourism. This paper will critically examine the concept of managing sex tourism. In addition, the paper will determine if management of sex tourism is inherently offensive (Hesse & Tutenges 2011).

Sex Tourism

Sex tourism refers to the voyages prearranged within the sector but exploiting its networks and structures for commercial sex affairs between locals and tourists. Sex tourism is a booming industry in most tourist destinations around the world. Specifically, sex tourism targets poor countries. In most cases, people from wealthy countries exploit men, women and children from poor countries (UNWTO 2015). Interestingly, commercial sex has become a source of income for sex workers from poor countries. To some extent, one can argue that sex workers’ bodies have been colonized. Sex tourism leads to moral degradation of society within which it is practiced.

In particular, uncontrolled sex tourism can lead to vices like human and drug trafficking within the areas concerned. In this regard, sex tourism destroys moral standing of destination countries. Sex tourism affects family lives and societies in disproportionate ways. For instance, locals are used and damped when tourists move back to their countries. Moreover, sex tourism exposes victims to organized crimes, which impair their family relationships (Laing & Crouch 2011).

Sex tourism exposes victims to issues such as child prostitution, sexually transmitted diseases and human trafficking. All these vices are detrimental to development of societies. In contrast, sex tourism adds value to economies of countries in which it is practiced. In this regard, sex tourism has both its advantages and disadvantages to society. While sex tourism benefits governments through increased revenues, it has dire consequences, if left uncontrolled. Sex tourism earns foreign exchange to destination countries. Moreover, sex tourism creates market for local goods. Additionally, sex tourism exposes destination countries to the world, which is beneficial to them. In this regard, doing away with sex tourism is difficult.

In fact, most government officials have been left wondering which way to go. As long as a country values tourism, sex tourism cannot be avoided since it is a socio-cultural event. In essence, governments that prohibit prostitution and yet allow tourism are hiding the reality of events on the ground. For instance, Kenya outlaws prostitution yet Mombasa is a sex tourism destination. In essence, countries that prohibit prostitution try to deny the existence of sex tourism and therefore cannot manage it effectively. In the process, such countries expose their citizens to worse vices such as drug abuse, child prostitution and human trafficking, as is the case in Mombasa (Omondi 2011).

Characteristics of sex tourism

Although sex tourism is associated with some specific destinations, it should be noted that it happens everywhere. Nonetheless, some governments do not give sex workers power because their activity is considered illegal. On the other hand, certain destinations give sex workers power which ensures they are protected. Of great concern are unprotected sex workers. Sex tourism focuses more on poor countries than on wealthy countries. Poor countries do not have effective legal systems to protect sex workers while their rich counterparts do. The vices that arise from sex tourism come because of poor management of the sector in tourist destinations. Most sex tourists go in search of cheap or peculiar sexual indulgences.

Past research has established that sex tourists travel for exact reason of indulging in sexual relations that are either too risky or too expensive in their home countries. In this regard, it can be shown that such tourists target destinations where sex workers are cheap, submissive and unprotected (Katsulis 2010). This behavior has created the negative impacts of sex tourism. In this regard, one cannot argue that managing sex tourism is inherently offensive. In fact, exploitation is rampant where sex tourism is left uncontrolled. Specifically, tourists that target areas where they can indulge in risky sexual behaviors like child prostitution or child pornography would obviously cherish destinations where sex tourism is not regulated. For instance, peculiar sexual behaviors were reported in Mombasa. In particular, certain women were paid by tourists to sleep with dogs. Moreover, some sex tourists went to Dominican Republic in search for hardcore sex, which was probably scarce in their homeland (O’Connell-Davidson 1999).

Male sex tourists

Male sex tourists are the most affected since they have a long history of association with sex workers. Besides, most studies have focused on male sex tourists who look for submissive women. In most cases, sex workers in poor countries offer cheap sex. In addition, these sex workers are superbly submissive because they are desperate for money. Moreover, male tourists usually target sex workers who offer them peculiar sexual indulgences. Sometimes male sex tourists migrate temporarily to these destinations until they fulfill their operations. Resentment arising from loss of position of white males has also contributed greatly to sex tourism. The males attempt to reclaim rights lost at home by participating in sex tourism. Some theorists also suggest that desire to attack modern feminism has lead American white males to sex tourism. This activity satisfies their conscience since they meet overly submissive women from poor countries (Coles 2010).

Male tourists tend to run away from their materialistic and powerful women in the U.S. to exploit innocent and desperate women from poor countries. Most male sex tourists tend to conceal their home lives. In fact, their ages usually range between 30 and 70 years. Most male tourists are considered wealthy in destination countries although that may not be the case in their home countries. Male tourists tend to justify their actions by noting how helpful they are to their victims (Garrick 2005).

Male sex tourists tend to pretend to save their victims from oppressive relationships and unsupportive husbands. Nonetheless, it should also be noted that some males also travel to the West for sexual adventure (Bandyopadhyay 2013). Conversely, male sex tourists who visit the West are usually wealthy. In addition, sex tourists who visit the West respect authority. In most cases, they go for sexual adventure. This exposes the difference between managed sex tourism and unregulated sex tourism. Moreover, it calls for management of sex tourism (Rivers-Moore 2012).

Female sex tourists

Middle aged or old women seeking romance in poor countries usually characterize female sex tourists. In most cases, female sex tourists pretend to seek true love from males of color. However, the characteristics of their relationships usually suggest the opposite. Most female tourists come from Europe and North America. To some extent, female sex tourists are usually considered insecure. They are also considered to have a history of failed relationships. Additionally, female sex tourists are considered to have low self-esteem in their homeland. Nonetheless, it should also be noted that female sex tourists might be characterized as those who want to have a different sexual experience or those who want superfluous sex. Female sex tourists also show resentment at men from their homeland because of failed relationships. Furthermore, female sex tourists tend to have stereotypical assumptions that suggest fantasies and prowess which are not present in their men. However, the fact that they pay men from poor countries to indulge in sexual relations makes it exploitative. Moreover, female sex tourists tend to treat their ‘lovers’ as servants.

Comparison of male and female sex tourism

From the above context, it can be observed that both female and male sex tourists are exploitative. Similarity in both cases is evident because there is exchange of money or gifts for sex. Essentially, sex tourists pay their clients for services offered. Moreover, in both cases clients are abused if the industry is not regulated. Moreover, in both cases tourists are only interested in sex but not in the personnel offering sex. In both cases, tourists pose as good Samaritans to sex workers with full knowledge of the massively disparate economic power between them. This shows that both genders exploit sex workers from poor countries. Furthermore, both genders pose social issues in destination countries (Jacobs 2010).

Why people become workers in sex industry

People go into sex industry for several reasons. Interestingly, most of the reasons are negative since they arise from societal problems. For instance, some people go into sex industry because of poverty. Poor countries have more than 50% unemployment rates that keeps surging. Moreover, these countries are characterized by mismanagement of public funds and poor legal systems. These issues cause unemployment and poverty in poor countries. Some people also go into sex industry due to family problems such as child abuse or chauvinism. Street children can also be lured into sex industry because they lack basic needs. Moreover, drug abuse that could be due to family problems can also cause youths to become sex workers. In countries where sex workers are not protected, street children or innocent citizens can be forced into prostitution. However, some people go into sex industry to seek sexual adventure with different races. Moreover, others move into sex industry to exploit or violate the opposite sex.

Potential consequences of unregulated sex tourism

Potential risks associated with unregulated sex tourism include contraction of sexually transmitted diseases such as Gonorrhea and Aids, among others. These risks are real even though some governments tend to downplay them to safeguard revenues, as is the case in Thailand. Unregulated sex tourism exposes sex workers to police harassment, which might result in bribery or abuse. In addition, unregulated sex tourism exposes sex workers to harassment by clients who may deny them their rights as well as abuse them. Unregulated sex tourism can also lead to social stigma since there is lack of representation or recognition of sex workers. Furthermore, unregulated sex tourism can lead to violence among clients or between clients and tourists. Unregulated sex can also lead to rape or coercion into human trafficking. In essence, regulating sex tourism would contain vices involved in the sector.

Managing sex tourism

Managing sex tourism involves regulating activities of sex tourists with the help of sex workers. Managing sex tourism would appear offensive on the outside; nonetheless, it would be essential in safeguarding sex tourism. Society has its morals, which would be tainted by decriminalization of sex tourism. In fact, sex tourists will also feel exposed to the public since they love to do these acts in private. From this perspective, both the public and sex tourists will feel caged by decriminalization of prostitution and regulation of sex tourism. Past researches have shown that sex tourists deny any involvement in the activity. In fact, they tend to pose as visitors, sponsors, or holidaymakers, among others (Chon, Bauer & McKercher 2003). This shows clearly that regulating the industry would appear offensive to them because they tend to hide their true intentions. Nonetheless, the effects of unregulated sex tourism are overly compelling (Ryan & Page 2000).

Exploitation of sex workers as well as its consequences can have big implications on society and the country at large. For instance, sexually transmitted diseases that are acquired in commercial sex can be spread thereby increasing prevalence of such diseases in destination countries. Moreover, leaving sex tourism unregulated can promote thriving of criminal enterprises. In essence, managing sex tourism is compelling despite its capacity to be inherently offensive. From the arguments above, it is quite clear that sex tourism should be regulated. Managing sex tourism would eliminate illegal exploitation of sex workers and children. In addition, managing sex tourism would improve working conditions of prostitutes (Cruz & van-Iterson 2015).

Furthermore, managing sex tourism would improve healthcare, safety and security. Additionally, managing sex tourism would reduce police harassment and violence. Again, managing sex tourism would give more control to sex workers as well as open ways for leaving the industry. Effective management of sex tourism can be achieved by decriminalizing prostitution. This can be done by registering sex workers, zoning the areas of such activities and providing health care support. Furthermore, managing sex tourism can be put into action by counseling sex workers (Yew 2014).


Managing sex tourism is inherently offensive, but must be implemented to mitigate potential risks associated with it. These risks are dire and can lead to unimaginable loss to both sex workers and sex tourists. However, managing sex tourism should be done in a manner that does not encourage prostitution. Moreover, emphasis should be employed in weeding out criminal activities within the sector. In addition, managing sex tourism should be done in a manner that does not openly offend sex tourists because this could lead to undesirable results. In this regard, zoning should not be done in a way that suggests isolation and abandonment of stakeholders in sex tourism. Instead, zoning should emphasize integration.

List of References

Bandyopadhyay, R 2013, ‘A paradigm shift in sex tourism research’, Tourism Management Perspectives, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 1-2.

Chon, K, Bauer, T & McKercher, B 2003, Sex and Tourism: Journeys of Romance, Love, and Lust, Routledge, London.

Coles, T 2010, ‘Negotiating the field of masculinity: The production and reproduction of multiple dominant masculinities’, Men and Masculinities, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 30-44.

Cruz, J & van-Iterson, S 2015, . Web.

Garrick, D 2005, ‘Excuses, excuses: Rationalisations of Western Sex Tourists in Thailand’, Current Issues in Tourism, vol. 8, no. 6, pp. 497-509.

Hesse, M & Tutenges, S 2011, ‘Young tourists visiting strip clubs and paying for sex’, Tourism Management, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 869-874.

Jacobs, J 2010, Sex, Tourism and the Postcolonial encounter (New Directions in Tourism analysis), Ashgate, Surrey.

Katsulis, Y 2010, ‘”Living like a King”: Conspicuous consumption, virtual communities, and the social construction of paid sexual encounters by U.S. sex tourists’, Men and Masculinities, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 80-104.

Laing, J & Crouch, G 2011, ‘Frontier tourism: retracing mythical journeys’, Annals of Tourism Research, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 1516-1534.

O’Connell-Davidson, J 1999, Prostitution, Power and Freedom, University of Michigan Press, Michigan.

Omondi, R 2011, . Web.

Rivers-Moore, M 2012, ‘Almighty gringos: Masculinity and value in sex tourism’, Sexualities, vol. 15, no. 7, pp. 850-870.

Ryan, C & Page, S 2000, Tourism Management (Advances in Tourism Research), Routledge, London.

UNWTO 2015, Protection of children in tourism. Web.

Yew, L 2014, Containing Commercial Sex to Designated Red Light Areas: An idea past its prime? Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Sex Tourism: Features, Effects, and Control'. 11 June.

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