Sex tourism

Sex tourism

Sex tourism is travel to engage in sexual intercourse or sexual activity with prostitutes, and is typically undertaken internationally by tourists from wealthier countries.

The World Tourism Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, defines sex tourism as "trips organized from within the tourism sector, or from outside this sector but using its structures and networks, with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination".cite conference
date = 17-22 October 1995
title = WTO Statement On The Prevention Of Organized Sex Tourism
booktitle = Adopted by the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization at its eleventh session - Cairo (Egypt), 17-22 October 1995 (Resolution A/RES/338 (XI))
publisher = World Tourism Organization
location = Cairo (Egypt)
url =
accessdate = 2006-12-20
] The U.N. opposes sex tourism citing health, social and cultural consequences for both tourist home countries and destination countries, especially in situations exploiting gender, age, social and economic inequalities in sex tourism destinations. [U.N. Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI) " [ Gender Mainstreaming Mandates] "] [U.N. Congress On The Prevention Of Crime And The Treatment Of Offenders Press Release " [ New Global Treaty to Combat Sex Slavery of Women and Girls] "]

While sex tourism can refer to a variety of commercial sexual activities, agencies and academics sometimes also use the terms: adult sex tourism, child sex tourism and female sex tourism to refer to different kinds of sex tourism. Attractions for sex tourists can include reduced costs for services in the destination country, along with either legal prostitution or indifferent law enforcement and access to child prostitution.


National destinations for sex tourists include
Thailand, [cite web
url =
title = Thailand's Sex Industry
accessdate = 2006-12-20
last = Cruey
first = Greg
work = About: Asia For Visitors
publisher = About, Inc. (The New York Times Co.)
quote = Nowhere else is it so open and prevalent.
] Brazil,cite web
work=The Protection Project
archiveurl =
quote=Brazil is a major sex tourism destination. Foreigners come from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Latin America, and North America ...
] cite news
first = Carmen J.
last = Gentile
title = Brazil cracks down on child prostitution
url =
work = San Francisco Chronicle
publisher = Chronicle Foreign Service
date = 2006-02-02
accessdate = 2006-12-20
quote = ... young prostitutes strut in front of middle-aged American and European tourists ...
] Sri Lanka, [cite web
url =
title = Sri Lanka - Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2004
accessdate = 2007-11-17
date = 2005-02-28
publisher = Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
quote = ... Boys and girls were victims of commercial sexual exploitation by pedophiles in the sex tourism industry ...
] [cite web
url =
title = Child exploitation not new to stricken region
accessdate = 2007-11-17
publisher = CNN
quote = ... some resorts in Thailand and Sri Lanka, were so-called "sex tourist" destinations ...
] [cite web
url =
title = Child sex tourism spreading in Asia
accessdate = 2007-11-17
publisher = CNN
quote = ... established sex tourist destinations like Thailand, the Philippines and Sri Lanka ...
] Dominican Republic,cite web
title=Dominican Republic
work=The Protection Project
archiveurl =
quote=The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular sex tourism destinations in the world, and it is advertised on the Internet as a "single man's paradise."
] cite web
title=The Web, Where ‘Pimps’ Roam Free
work=Wired News
publisher=CondéNet Inc
] Costa Rica,cite news
first = Serge F.
last = Kovaleski
title = Child Sex Trade Rises In Central America
url =
work = Washington Post Foreign Service
publisher = Washington Post Foreign Service
date = 2000-01-02
accessdate = 2006-12-20
quote = ... "an accelerated increase in child prostitution" in the country ... blamed largely on the unofficial promotion of sex tourism in Costa Rica over the Internet.
] cite web
title=Costa Rica
work=The Protection Project
archiveurl =
quote=...has come to rival Thailand and the Philippines as one of the world’s leading destinations for sex tourism.
] and Cuba.cite web
work=The Protection Project
archiveurl =
quote=Cuba is a popular destination country for sex tourists from Canada, the United States, and Europe.
] cite web
title=Cuba: The Thailand of the Caribbean
last= Zúñiga
work=The New West Indian

An individual city or region can have a particular reputation as a sex tourist destination. Many of these coincide with major red-light districts, and include Amsterdam in the Netherlands; Zona Norte in Tijuana, Mexico; Boy's Town in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico; Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket in Thailand; Vladivostok in Russian Far East, destination for Asian sex tourists [cite web
url =
title = Across the Siberian Wastes
accessdate = 2007-11-17
publisher = Jim Rogers
quote = ... swarms of Russian prostitutes and Japanese johns on sex holidays ...
] , and Angeles City [cite web
url =
title = Sex Tourism Is Big Money for Pimps and Politicians
accessdate = 2007-04-08
author = Fr. Shay Cullen
date = 2005-03-03
work = imc-qc (philapinas)
publisher = QC Independent Media Centre
quote = Angeles City, two hours north of Metro Manila, is the home of the most organized sex industry in the Philippines. Thousands of sex tourists from all over the world go there to look for cheap sex, much of it with under age minors.
] , the site of a former United States military base in the province of Pampanga, Philippines.

In the United States, prostitution is largely illegal, with the exception of certain areas of the state of Nevada; these have become a sex tourist destination for some Americans. To a lesser extent, several other large cities in the U.S. are also domestic sex tourist destinations despite legal sanctions on prostitution.

Many of the Iraqi women fleeing the war in Iraq are turning to prostitution. In Syria alone, an estimated 50,000 refugee girls and women, many of them widows, are forced into prostitution just to survive. [ [ '50,000 Iraqi refugees' forced into prostitution] ] Cheap Iraqi prostitutes have helped to make Syria a popular destination for sex tourists. The clients come from wealthier countries in the Middle East. [ [ Iraqi refugees forced into prostitution] ] High prices are offered for virgins. [ [ Desperate Iraqi Refugees Turn to Sex Trade in Syria] ]

Conversely, prostitution is a legal activity in a growing list of other nations worldwide, including in many (but not all) of these destinations.

Female sex tourism destinations

The primary destinations for female sex tourism are Southern Europe (mainly Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, and Spain), the Caribbean (led by Jamaica, Barbados and the Dominican Republic), parts of Africa (Tunisia, Gambia, Kenya cite web
url =
title = Older white women join Kenya's sex tourists
accessdate = 2007-11-30
author =
last = Clarke
first = Jeremy
date = 2007-11-25
work =
publisher = Reuters
pages =
language =
doi =
archiveurl =
archivedate =
quote = Hard figures are difficult to come by, but local people on the coast estimate that as many as one in five single women visiting from rich countries are in search of sex.
] ), Bali, [ [ Kuta Cowboys: The rodeo is in town everyday in Bali] ] and Pattaya or Phuket in Thailand. Lesser destinations include Nepal, Morocco, Fiji, Ecuador and El Salvador. Female sex tourism differs from male sex tourism, in that women do not usually go to specific bars. Women usually give clothes, meals, cash and gifts to their prostitutes, but not all (especially in Southern Europe) expect compensation.

Adult sex tourism

Sex tourism is a multibillion dollar industry that supports an international workforce estimated to number in the millions. []

Child sex tourism

Legal issues in the United States

Federal law (see PROTECT Act of 2003) prohibits United States citizens or permanent residents to engage in international travel with the purpose or effect of having commercial sex with a person under the age of 18, or any sex with a person under the age of 16; facilitating such travel is also illegal. Arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement are becoming common; however, prosecutions under this law are still very rare.

As of 2005, there has been one effort to prosecute a sex tour operator: Big Apple Oriental Tours of New York was prosecuted for "promotion of prostitution" by the New York State Attorney General after lobbying by feminist human rights groups, however the case has been thrown out twice.

HR 972, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005 reauthorizes the 2000 law, but it also gives U.S. law enforcement better tools to study human trafficking within the United States and to prosecute those who purchase sex acts. The measure authorizes $50 million for grants to state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute persons who engage in the purchase of commercial sex acts. [ [ Full copy of HR 972] ]

Legal issues in the United Kingdom

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 enables British citizens and residents who commit sexual offences against children overseas to be prosecuted in the UK. [ [ Travelling Child Sex Offenders Foreign & Commonwealth Office ] ] Some of the offences carry penalties of up to life imprisonment and anyone found guilty will be placed on the Sex Offenders Register. The UK police and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre and Interpol are actively involved in monitoring child sex tourists and will prosecute where necessary.

Witnesses can report it to the local police, hotel manager, tour representative or tour operator. People can also call Crimestoppers. Overseas the number is +44 800 555 111. Witnesses can also call Crimestoppers when they return to the UK, the number is 0800 555 111 a cash reward may be available.

Legal issues in Canada

Canada has included in its Criminal Code provisions that allow for the arrest and prosecution of Canadians in Canada for offences committed in foreign countries related to child sex tourism, such as child prostitution, as well as for child sexual exploitation offences, such as indecent acts, child pornography and incest. Convictions carry a penalty of up to 14 years' imprisonment. [ [ Child Sex Tourism: It's a Crime ] ]

Legal issues in Australia

In 2005, approximately 20 pedophiles from Australia who tried to travel to tsunami ravaged countries were stopped under the rules of the new Australian child sex offender register. The convicted offenders had to tell police of their plans to travel, and their travel details were sent by police to Indonesian and Thai authorities, who refused them entry. Child Wise director Bernadette McMenamin confirmed that authorities had known pedophiles would be targeting children in countries that had been hit by the tsunami.She said it was well known that when countries experienced natural disasters or military crises pedophiles exploited the instability."Post-tsunami we expected that a lot of Australian child sex offenders would target these countries," she said. Further plans to cancel passports of recidivist pedophiles to prevent child sex tourism in general, and exploitation of natural and political instability in countries targeted by sex tourists in particular, are in the works in Australia. [cite web |title=Predators barred from tsunami countries |work=Sydney Morning Herald |url=|year=2005 |accessdate=2008-06-05]

Academic study

University of Leicester sociologists studied this subject as part of a research project for the Economic and Social Research Council and End Child Prostitution and Trafficking campaign. The study included interviews with over 250 Caribbean sex tourists. [Sex Tourism in the Caribbean by Jacqueline Sanchez Taylor, University of Leicester. Chapter for Tourism, Travel and Sex, eds. Stephen Clift and Simon Carter, 1999] [The New West Indian [ Sex tourists: survey] ] Among their findings:
* Preconceptions about race and gender influenced their opinions.
* Economically underdeveloped tourist-receiving countries are promoted as being culturally different so that (in the Western tourist's understanding) prostitution and traditional male domination of women have less stigma than similar practices might have in their home countries.


Canadian film makers have been active at reporting on sex tourism. Documentary titles include:
*"Falang: Behind Bangkok's Smile" by Jordon Clark (2005) (Imdb title|0488537|this title), set in Thailand
*CBC series "the Lens" episode "Selling Sex in Heaven" (2005) (Imdb title|0440478|this title), set in the Philippines.
*Channel 4 "Cutting Edge" episode "The Child Sex Trade" (2003), [] set in Romania, Italy


ee also

*Cuban "jiniterismo"
*Prostitution in Thailand
*Prostitution in the Philippines
*Tourist apartheid
*Trafficking in human beings


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