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Sex Tourism, Legal Issues, Benefits, Threats Term Paper


This paper will provide a discussion of sex and tourism. It will introduce the topic with a general overview statement. The paper then assesses the benefits and disadvantages of sex and tourism. In covering the benefits and shortcomings of sex tourism, the paper will try to establish whether sex tourism is something that is ethical and desirable in society. The legal issues associated with sex tourism and the existing constitutional issues will also be covered. There are several statutes that cover sex tourism. A number of the available statutes which cover sex and tourism will be discussed. A comparative page will be provided whereby foreign laws on sex and tourism will be considered. The analyses of the legal aspect of sex and tourism and, the management factor, will be captured. Under this section, real cases of sex tourism will be highlighted in order to help understand how sex tourism legislation plays out in such cases. A conclusion reflecting the salient features of the discussion will be provided at the end of the discussion.

Statement of the Topic

It is opined that thousands of people all over the world make travel every year to distinct destinations with varying reasons. Sex tourism has become an attractive aspect of the tourism industry. It is argued that many of those sex tourism destinations are in developing countries (Harrison, 2001). The key groups are rich men and women from developed countries. According to the World Tourism Organization, sex tourism is defined as a travel organized through existing networks solely for sexual relationships between the tourists and the residents of the desired destination. The primary goal of traveling must be to engage in commercial sexual relationships (Phil, 1999). Sex tourists are said to weigh the costs of services in the travel destination. In addition, the presence of laws allowing prostitution is the main attraction. It has been stated that access to child prostitution has been a key consideration by sex tourists (Macleod, 2004). This paper discusses the benefits, disadvantages, legal issues of sex tourism. The paper also analyzes the management of sex tourism (Papathanassis, 2011).

Benefits of sex tourism

Sex tourism generates a lot of money. The success of sex tourism has been through the support of institutions and governments that benefit from it (Mak, 2004). There are institutional facilitators who have teamed up with other partners to provide commercial sex tourism markets. Their support has paid off. They have made substantial earnings from their investment in sex tourism. It follows that there are several people who have received direct or indirect benefits (Mak, 2004). It is worth noting that the sex tourism business has worked for hand in hand with human trafficking. It has been observed that, in sex tourism markets, the demand exceeds the supply; hence key players have to engage in trafficking so as to fill the deficiency. Children and women have largely been victims of said trafficking (Mak, 2004). It is said that government officials find it hard to stop human trafficking bearing in mind the revenue benefits generated from it (Kempadoo, 1999).

Disadvantages of sex tourism

It is imperative to note that there are several disadvantages associated with sex tourism (Malcolm, 2002). Sex tourism has become a costly trade with notable effects in children, women, and society at large (Kathryn, 2005). Society’s values have been eroded by the trade (Aronowitz, 2009). Women and children have been reduced to objects (Ryan, 2002). There is an alarming concern that the industry has made women lose their moral identity (McCabe & Manian, 2010).

Those opposed to sex tourism have observed that the trade focuses on sexual gratification and financial benefits instead of assessing the impacts on human dignity. The social benefits of the trade are said to outweigh the social costs. Research indicates that the benefits of sex tourism are realized by a few individuals while the society is moral thread is threatened (Barry, 1995). The main reason why trade has been considered harmful is its link to human trafficking and child prostitution (Klain, 1999).

The industry relies heavily on human trafficking. There is a lack of international and local standards to regulate sex tourism (Cole & Morgan, 2010). Sex tourism dealers have shown economic and political influence on the existing regulators. The dealers have repeatedly influenced government agents to protect their trade. The effects of such influences have affected women and children (Morgan, 1996). The transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases has been witnessed. Children and women have been psychologically affected by sex tourism (Morgan, 1996).

Legal Issues

There are notable legal issues that sex tourism presents. The industry is propelled by illegal activities such as child prostitution, human trafficking, and rape. Legally speaking, sex tourism has presented key legal issues that are worth critical examination. It is to be remembered that sexual relationships between the tourist and the resident are regulated by the law (Flowers, 2006). It could be regulated by the existing law within the jurisdiction of international law (Murphy, 2002). It is agreeable that the relationship must be between two adults, and express consent must be evident. The absence of consent makes the relationship illegal and punishable under the law. In many jurisdictions, sexual intercourse with a minor is expressly prohibited (Oppermann, 1998).

Constitutional Issues

The exploitation of children for economic purposes has gradually increased in the world today (Klain, 1999). The sad exploitation has been through sex tourism. Tourists have abused children’s constitutional rights. This exploitation has been described as a worse form of human rights abuses. The economic purposes have led to significant breaches of children’s constitutional rights. Constitutionally, the child is denied the right to liberty. They are further denied other fundamental rights, such as the right to education, health care, nutrition, and decent childhood (Bloor, 1995). The Univeral Declaration of Human Rights guarantees every human being a right to liberty. It further prohibits individuals from slavery and servitude. Therefore, the incidences of sex tourism defile the Declaration of Human Rights. The defilement becomes greater when children are involved (Lessig & Lessig, 2006). Similar provisions are reflected in the American Constitution.

Federal/ State/ Local Statutes

According to (2002), numerous statutes have given the constitution sufficient backing. They have been amended throughout time so as to reflect the dynamics of the time. In the United States, there are numerous legislations, which cover sex tourism. The main legislation is the Sex Tourism Prohibition Improvement Act of 2002. Section 2423 of the Act imposes fifteen years in jail for any person who engages in interstate illicit sexual conduct. The Act imposes similar punishment to a person who commits the mentioned crime outside America but is a permanent resident of America. The definition of the offense also covers ancillary offenses. The ancillary offenses are made to punish those individuals who do not take part in the act but facilitate it. Facilitation through procuring, inducing, or arranging is barred by the Act. The mentioned Act has been amended. The amendment has been provided so as to help in dealing with international sex tourism (Murphy, 2002).

The Mann Act, also known as the White Slave Traffic Act has provisions that outlaw sex tourism. The Act has been at the forefront in punishing those who engage in human trafficking for sexual purposes. The Act outlaws any transport of any individual interstate with intent of engaging in sexual activity. The sexual activity must be unlawful and punishable by law. The Act was amended in 1986. The amendment desired to criminalize the transport of a minor interstate or abroad for sexual activity. The intent must be proved (Fraley, 2005).

In 1994, the Child Abuse Prevention Act was enacted. The Act expanded the protection of a child. The Mann Act was rendered redundant. Despite the requirement of proving intent, the Act saw many sex tourists being prosecuted. Increase in sex tourism led to the passing of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. The act aimed at addressing trafficking for sexual activities and forced labor. Congress desired to cut the number of child prostitutes. In 2002, the 1994 Act was revised. The Sex Tourism Prohibition Improvement Act was enacted which was to deal with various problems in the previous legislations. It sought to criminalize any child trafficking by the tour operators. The Act directly targeted the tour operators (Fraley, 2005).

In 2003, the Prosecuting Remedies and Tools Against Exploitation of Children Today Act was passed. The Legislation increased the incarceration time from initial fifteen years to thirty years. Congress also criminalized any attempts to participate in organizing sex tourism. The most essential part of the Act was that it did not require proof of intent by the prosecute the offenders (Lessig & Lessig, 2006).

Federal / State/ Local Regulations

The desire to curb sex tourism having aggravated, Congress established strong regulations to give the existing laws a strong implementation foundation. The Congress established Operation Predator (Lessig & Lessig, 2006). This brought together federal government officials and law enforcement agents. This regulation later became an initiative of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security. The joint initiative has tremendously reduced the number of child trafficking. Through this regulation, many indictments have been conducted against sex tourists (Lessig & Lessig, 2006). However, these indictmenst have not helped to prevent such practices in other regions of the world.


There are cases in different jurisdictions, which explore the issue of sex tourism. In the United States, there are various cases, which have clearly shown the position of different laws on sex tourism. In the case of U.S. v. Hersh, the 1994 Act was applied (Lessig & Lessig, 2006). The accused in that case travelled to engage in sexual activities with young boys. There was evidence to show that he exploited several boys of 8-16 years. Accrdiong to internationsl law, these boys were minors as vindicated by their age. The evidence available indicated that he used a false passport to bring one the boys to the United States. The boy’s initial home was Honduras. He made claims that the alleged boy was his son, whom he had adopted. The FBI interviewed witnesses through the help of Honduran police. The accused was found guilty and sentenced to 105 years imprisonment (Lessig & Lessig, 2006).

In the case of State v. Steer, the Court stated that the provision of the law that required consideration was limited to selective sexual conduct (Fraley, 2005). It was held that a person found guilty of the offence of travelling for illegal sexual activity, could not rely on that provision. The case of People v. Bell found that the statute could be applied in general situations (Fraley, 2005). This covered instances where an adult gave a child money to induce the child for sexual activities. The court also found that a broad interpretation of the statute was essential since it helped in discouraging child prostitution.

In People v. Harris, the court drew a distinction between soliciting a juvenile prostitute and recruiting a child for prostitution (Lessig & Lessig, 2006). The solicitation was said to be for middlemen who only participated in procuring. The court rejected the assertion that once the accused is guilty of the sexual act could not be charged with solicitation. Similar arguments were evidenced in the case of People v. Emerterio (Holmes & Holmes, 2002).

Comparison with Foreign Laws

Sex tourism has become a universal issue. Countries are determined to combat international and local sex tourism. With the advent of globalization, various societies have become vulnerable. Australia and Germany have moved swiftly in making sure that the sex tourism is stopped. These countries can be termed as the main benchmarks in as far as the fight against sex tourism is concerned. To start with, the Australian Parliament enacted the first law to protect children against sex tourism (Holmes & Holmes, 2002). The Act was extremely vital since it amended the Australian Crimes Act of 1914. The Act further expanded the jurisdiction of the Austalian prosecutors. They were permitted by the law to prosecute citizens who committed the crimes overseas (Ryan, 2003). The jurisdiction did not cover Australian citizens only, but also the residents. The Act has achieved significant strides since its enactment with numerous Australians being prosecuted. The previous Act limited the government’s power to prosecute. The amendments in the Act allowed prosecutions to be preferred against an accomplice to the crime of sex tourism. In order to protect children from emotional discomforts, the Act permitted the use of video link in delivering their testimonies. To enhance support for the Act, the Australian government established a program to arrest the child sex tourists. Child Wise is a program which fosters tourism training activities. This program has been fundamental in the fight against child sex in tourist destaintaions in Australia.

Germany has not been left behind in the fight against sex tourism (Koshar, 2000). German’s legislations on sex tourism are similar to those of the United States. They are applied without a requirement of double criminality. The German government has passed a legislation which spells out a maximum of 10 years imprisonment for sex tourism related charges. Worth noting is that the German law provides for a limitation period of 5 years (Fraley, 2005). Its achievements were recognized by UNICEF in 1998. The main weakness of the law is that it applies within the territorial jurisdiction. The law lacks a universal force (Fraley, 2005).

In Japan, extraterritorial jurisdiction is embraced. The Japanese penal code does not entail the principle of double criminality. This is similar to the United States laws on sex tourism. There are key limitations in the Japanese laws which have made an investigation into sex tourism crimes hard (Fraley, 2005).


The legal systems available have demonstrated serious weaknesses in dealing with sex tourism. The influence of direct beneficiaries of sex tourism has proved more powerful than the law enforcing agencies. The existence of strong laws, which are geared towards protecting the society, has faced numerous challenges (Gallagher, 2010). The existing legal standards ought to be strengthened beyond individual’s influence. The existence of the laws is not enough to combat sex tourism. Strong international and local enforcement agencies are required (Sornarajah, 2010).

Management Suggestions

It has been established that sex tourism is propelled by internet. There are numerous internet sites and networks which are designed to facilitate sex tourism. Sites are developed everyday in the social networks for sex tourism purposes. Such sites have targeted teenage boys and girls. Strong international cyber laws need to be established. This occurs at a time whereby the world is managed by information technology (Pease, Rowe & Cooper, 2007). Proper coordination of the legal aspects presented requires a high level of management (Howie, 2003). Managers should help in investigations and identification of sex tourist networks (Swarbrooke, 1998). A manager in the tourism sector should devise measures of ensuring that ethics in the tourism sector are maintained (Fennell, 2006). This entails enforcing the ethical standards presented by the World Tourism Organization. It is the duty of a manager to facilitate the adherence to the mentioned tourism ethics in the organization (Fennell, 2006). The manager should sensitize the subordinate staff on the benefits of maintaining the said ethics. Tourism manangers are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that laws governing sex tourism are is under implementation. This is due to the fact that mananger are are answerable for anything that happens in tourist sites that are under them. Manager are obliged to look ensure that sex tourism in eliminated from their premises (Fennell, 2006).


This paper has provided an in depth discussion of sex tourism has been established that sex tourism has benefits and disadvantages. The existing laws have demonstrated efficacy, but a lot is desired. The duty of a manager in preventing the crime is highly vital. Different parties need to join efforts to eradicate the crime. There are many beneficiaries who have continued to support the crime. Strong legal mechanisms ought to be developed to instill tourism ethics. Failure to develop and execute legislation on sex tourism is an encouraging and promotind factor for sex tourism. There is one thing that comes out strongly in this paper. Tourism brings about economic opportunities for countries. Therefore, governments seem to concentrate more on these benefits rather than looking into the negativities that come with tourism. However, a number of countries across the world are showing remarkable efforts in enforcing legislation on sex tourism. If they receive sufficient backing from the international community, progress will be seen in numerous regions across the globe.

Reference List

Aronowitz, A. A. (2009). Human trafficking, human misery: The global trade in human beings. Westport, Conn: Praeger.

Barry, K. (1995). The prostitution of sexuality. New York: University Press.

Bloor, M. (1995). The sociology of HIV transmission. London [u.a.: Sage Publ.

Cole, S., & Morgan, N. (2010). Tourism and inequality: Problems and prospects. Wallingford, Oxfordshire: CABI.

Fennell, D. A. (2006). Tourism ethics. Clevedon [u.a.: Channel View Publ.

Flowers, R. B. (2006). Sex crimes: Perpetrators, predators, prostitutes, and victims. Springfield, Ill: Charles C. Thomas.

Fraley, A. (2005). Sex Tourism Legislation Under the PROTECT Act: Does It Really Protect? St. John’s Law Review, 2(79), 445-487.

Gallagher, A. T. (2010). The international law of human trafficking. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Harrison, D. F. (2001). Tourism and the less developed world: Issues and case studies. Wallingford: CABI.

Holmes, R. M., & Holmes, S. T. (2002). Current perspectives on sex crimes. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.

Howie, F. (2003). Managing the tourist destination. London: Thomson.

Kathryn, F. (2005). Sex Trafficking: The Global Market in Women and Children. New York: Worth.

Kempadoo, K. (1999). Sun, sex, and gold: Tourism and sex work in the Caribbean. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Klain, E. J. (1999). Prostitution of Children and Child-Sex Tourism: An Analysis of Domestic and International Responses. Web.

Koshar, R. (2000). German travel cultures. Oxford: Berg.

Lessig, L., & Lessig, L. (2006). Code: Version 2.0. New York: Basic Books.

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Malcolm, G. (2002). The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. New York: Back Bay Books.

McCabe, K. A., & Manian, S. (2010). Sex trafficking: A global perspective. Lanham, Md: Lexington Books.

Morgan, R. (1996). Sisterhood is global: The international women’s movement anthology. New York: Feminist Press.

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Papathanassis, A. (2011). The Long Tail of Tourism: Holiday Niches and their Impact on Mainstream Tourism. Wiesbaden: Betriebswirtschaftlicher Verlag Gable.

Pease, W., Rowe, M., & Cooper, M. (2007). Information and communication technologies in support of the tourism industry. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Pub.

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Sornarajah, M. (2010). The international law on foreign investment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Swarbrooke, J. (1998). Sustainable tourism management. New York: CABI Pub.

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