Sex tourism, no?

BY: Jasmine Arku


See, unlike other aspects of the industry, sex tourism is one subject that is hardly discussed. And when it comes up for mention it is usually in a hush-hush tone.

Talking about sex tourism is like, let’s face it, talking about sex. When the motivation is not right, one wouldn’t want to be the one talking about it. After all, it is not the weather or the rising cost of living. It is about S.E X.

Truth of the matter is that sex tourism is real and present; and probably happening soon at a location near you. (If not happening already). Perhaps, what makes it sticky is that it is very misunderstood.

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I mean when we refer to a sex tourist we are not looking at a ferocious-looking odd person. The purveyor is a healthily normal looking person; probably as normal as the fellow sitting next to you as you read this.

Another factor which complicates the matter is that sex tourism isn’t treated the same everywhere. With respect to the law, for instance, it is legal in some countries while illegal in others.

Getting stickier, right? But most of all, it is difficult to catch a sex tourist in action. Would you like to try?

It helps at this juncture to define what the world at large say about the practice. Sex tourism is travel to engage in sexual activity, particularly with prostitutes.

The World Tourism Organization, a specialised agency of the United Nations, defines sex tourism as trips organised 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.

People plan holidays with a variety of fun activities in mind, from sightseeing to sampling exotic food to absorbing some culture at local museums. However, playing it safe and engaging in family fun isn’t everyone’s cup of tea: some people are looking for more of a thrill.

Some people regard sexual activity while travelling as a way of enhancing their travel experience. However, social problems arise when particular countries or cities acquire a reputation as a destination or become attractive for sex tourism.

Attractions for sex tourists can include lower costs for sexual services in the destination country, more favourable local attitudes to prostitution, separation from person's normal social circle and physical environment, because prostitution is either legal or there is indifferent law enforcement and access to child prostitution.

Sex tourism is a booming global industry. Most clients involved in sex tourism are men, while a majority of the sex workers are women, although, female sex tourism exists in smaller numbers.

Sex tourism may be domestic which involves travel within the same country, or trans-national, which involves travel across national borders.

Sex tourism can be formally or informally arranged and local sex workers in the tourist destination are often migrants. These migrants can be either voluntary migrants, or trafficked sex workers.

Its operation can be complex and easily eludes scrutiny. It is characterised by a disparity between the motivations of the tourist and the sex worker.

It is also tricky because it is a multibillion-dollar industry. Sex tourism supports an international workforce estimated to number in the millions, which also benefits service industries such as the airline, taxi, restaurant and hotel industries.

Many a government would rather look away.

Consider that the tourist has disposable capital which can be used to pay for sexual services as well as a number of other experiences associated with travel and tourism (leisure, recreation, sightseeing, etc.).

On the other hand, the sex worker is usually living in poverty and providing sexual services because it is the best option available to them. This motivation, as you can see is very high.

To be continued
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