Thailand has had a long and complex relationship with commercial sex work that persists today. Despite all its other tourist draws, it's still known as a sex tourism destination, a designation that began around the time of the Vietnam War. The industry targeted to foreigners is very visible, with multiple red-light districts in Bangkok alone, but there is also a more clandestine domestic sex industry and myriad informal channels of sex-for-hire. Commercial sex work in any form is technically illegal in Thailand. However, laws to this effect are often ambiguous and unenforced.
Poverty drives thousands in rural Thailand and from neighbouring countries to the bustling capital of Bangkok, too. Washington Post foreign service. Best destination in Thailand for tourismux Thai sex tourismus and erotic massages. Search for Ivan Milat's other victims By crime reporter Mark Reddie He signed his prison letters "Ivan the innocent", but there is evidence to suggest Australia's backpacker killer took secrets of more victims to the grave. American Ethnologist.
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Experts warn that the industry has been so tolerated that it is today deeply entrenched, and efforts at regulation should be attempted in lieu of total shutdown.
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Sex tourism is travel to a different locale for the sake of sexual activity , particularly with prostitutes. 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".
Generally, people who travel to engage in sexual activity, including with a prostitute, are subject to prostitution laws of the destination jurisdiction. When the sexual activity involves children , is non-consensual or involves sex trafficking , it is often illegal, both in the destination country and in the individual's home country.
Domestic sex tourism involves travel within the same country, while trans-national sex tourism involves travel across national borders. Sex tourism is a multibillion-dollar industry that globally supports a workforce estimated in the millions,  that also benefits service industries such as the airline, taxi, restaurant and hotel industries.
A number of countries have become popular destinations for sex tourism, including Brazil,   Costa Rica ,    the Dominican Republic ,  the Netherlands particularly Amsterdam ,   Kenya ,  Colombia , Thailand ,  the Philippines, Cambodia , Cuba ,  and Indonesia particularly Bali. According to The Ethics of Tourism: Critical and Applied Perspectives by Lovelock and Lovelock, romance in general and sexual encounters more specifically are a key factor in world travel.
Sex tourism can be formally or informally arranged, and local sex workers in the tourist destination are often migrants. The most common type of sex tourism is of men seeking women.
Less common forms include female sex tourism women seeking men , men seeking men, and adults seeking children. Asian countries, especially Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, and Nepal are common destinations for sex tourists, as well as countries in Central and South America. Nations with higher rates of prostitution clients, or "johns", display much more positive attitudes towards commercial sex. Attitudes towards sex work in general is a complex issue. The countries where tourists come from tend to have harsher attitudes towards prostitution.
Conversely, in receiving countries such as Cambodia, commercial sex work is generally accepted as a common behavior for men, and sex with minors is often accepted as well. Lawmakers as well as law enforcement often do not place priority on policing prostitution and sex trafficking.
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 Caribbean sex tourists. However, despite a great deal of interest in sexual tourism amongst theorists, methodologically thorough and detailed studies remain rare,  despite the increasing accessibility of such groups for study in the past three decades.
McPhee notes that one of the central challenges to addressing sex tourism is the differing laws and norms regarding normal sexual behavior in sending and receiving countries. This stimulates the economy of these poorer nations.
These economic reinforcements are part of the reason sex tourism continues to exist. In an article published by the University of Chicago , Vrushali Patil argues that tourism in general has changed with economic policies in recent decades.
In an article for International Family Planning Perspectives , Mahler describes the economic conditions that lead to sexual exploitation of children. Sex tourism is also encouraged by cultural attitudes. The sex tourism industry offers a flourishing submarket for gay, bisexual and bicurious tourists. Existing studies suggest that gay sex tourism has similar motivations as non-gay sex tourism, with the added element of being able to connect to one's gay sexual identity.
Popular gay sex tourism markets in "Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Sardinia, Sicily and Fire Island have been journalistically described as holidays where gay sexual activity is widely possible"  Just like in heterosexual sex tourism markets, some arrangements may be monetary and some may not. Different places have different ways of identifying their interest in such arrangements.
For example, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for example, gay sex tourism has become a popular niche hosting a racially diverse market. Events such as Pride Parades , LGBT cruises such as Vacaya and gay-oriented festivals such as Circuit Festival and A Magical Weekend at Walt Disney World , provide an opportunity for gays to connect in great numbers, to one destination at a time and by default, create an environment for sex tourism.
Gay sex tourism has seen attacks with protests by religious and anti-gay groups. Some people travel to engage in sex with child prostitutes in a practice called child sex tourism. While it is criminal in most countries, this multibillion-dollar  industry is believed to involve as many as 2 million children around the world.
It is often the case that these people have travelled from a wealthier country or a richer town or region within a country to a less-developed destination, where poorer economic conditions, favourable exchange rates for the traveller and relative anonymity are key factors conditioning their behaviour and sex tourism. In an effort to eradicate the practice, some countries have enacted laws to allow prosecution of their citizens for child abuse that occurs outside their home country, even if it is not against the law in the country where the child abuse took place, for example, the United States Protect Act.
Brazil is considered to have the worst child sex trafficking record, after Thailand. UNICEF notes that sexual activity is often seen as a private matter, making communities reluctant to act and intervene in cases of sexual exploitation.
Most exploitation of children takes place as a result of their absorption into the adult sex trade where they are exploited by local people and sex tourists. In cases involving children, the U. Regulations and government involvement prove to have a positive impact on the sex industry. By decriminalizing prostitution, a government can protect sex workers under labor laws accessible by workers in other fields.
In the Netherlands, prostitutes have access to unlimited free STD testing. Not only does the judgment sex workers feel within the healthcare community keep them from seeking timely treatment, it also adversely affects self-esteem and informed health choices. One of the primary sources of opposition to sex tourism is with regard to child sex tourism, internationally defined as travel to have sex with a person under 18 years of age. This occurs when tourists from wealthy countries taking advantage of legal prostitution, lower consent ages, and the lack of extradition laws in order to engage in sex with minors in foreign countries.
Some feel that they may be attempting to subvert laws in their home country. Oppositions to sex tourism also stem from concerns around the trafficking of women. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime targets the trafficking of women and children as a central concern in their approach to transnational crime. In The Prostitution of Sexuality , Barry argues that the growing sex tourism industry reflects a global increase in sexual exploitation, and a lack of concern for the rights and dignity of sex workers.
The legality of prostitution and of enforcement of such laws varies considerably around the world. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.
Learn how and when to remove these template messages. This article is written like a personal reflection, personal essay, or argumentative essay that states a Wikipedia editor's personal feelings or presents an original argument about a topic. Please help improve it by rewriting it in an encyclopedic style. December Learn how and when to remove this template message. The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with Southeast Asia and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject.
You may improve this article , discuss the issue on the talk page , or create a new article , as appropriate. Main article: Child sex tourism. Decriminalization - No criminal penalties for prostitution. Legalization - prostitution legal and regulated.
Abolitionism - prostitution is legal, but organized activities such as brothels and pimping are illegal; prostitution is not regulated. Neo-abolitionism - illegal to buy sex and for 3rd party involvement, legal to sell sex. Prohibitionism - prostitution illegal. Legality varies with local laws. Sex portal. October Cairo Egypt : World Tourism Organization. Archived from the original on 14 August Retrieved 24 December Archived from the original on 4 September Retrieved 6 October Archived from the original PDF on 24 March The Protection Project.
Archived from the original on 28 September Retrieved 20 December Brazil is a major sex tourism destination. San Francisco Chronicle. Chronicle foreign service. Washington Post foreign service. Archived from the original on 20 December The New West Indian. 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. Retrieved 8 December ABC News. Retrieved 25 October About: Asia For Visitors.
About the New York Times Co. Archived from the original on 25 December Nowhere else is it so open and prevalent. Individual cities or regions have acquired a reputation as sex tourist destinations. Retrieved 25 June Retrieved 25 June — via world. Retrieved 30 November Retrieved 29 March New York and London: Routledge.
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Sex tourism in Pattaya: Is the party over?
Experts warn that the industry has been so tolerated that it is today deeply entrenched, and efforts at regulation should be attempted in lieu of total shutdown. Sudden restrictions, they claim, will likely move the industry underground, increasing risks like disease, fraud, and exploitation among both workers and patrons alike and could encourage human trafficking.
The Ayutthaya Kingdom thrived across Siam from — and at the time was the largest and wealthiest trading centre in the East. Its eminence as an international hub helped popularize a sex tourism trade very early on, as widespread prostitution was legal and taxed primarily through state-run brothels.
Strict interpretation of Buddhist doctrine places women as lesser contributors to society, and culturally children are tasked with taking care of aging parents.
While this stigma has eased today, the pressure for women to achieve financial stability for themselves or their families helped normalize the industry over time. Then under pressure from the United Nations, the Thai government formally ruled prostitution illegal in through a policy later replaced by the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act of The workers are typically women hailing from rural areas of the country that moved to the city to find work, but with limited education and the absence of other credentials required in the increasingly globalized city, take what work they can get.
These districts boast well-known and often high-end establishments that are not the product of illegal trafficking or forced workers — their high public visibility greatly reduces such a presence, along with the watchful eye of the State, itself eager to avoid international backlash for such ethical violations.
The Safari Bar brings in wandering tourists with its blaring oldies classics from the likes of Elvis or The Beatles, while Thigh Bar is a tourist-friendly staple with some of the lower drink prices available. In the early s, Patpong introduced a popular night market.
Angel Witch is known for its grandiose themed rock shows, and Billboard Agogo Bar features a high-energy atmosphere on its rotating dance floor and a Jacuzzi to boot, while Casanova is known to be a more relaxed hangout. The ground floor level has tons of open-air bars and an almost pub-like atmosphere, complete with sports broadcasts, live music, and plenty of people watching.
Emerging in popularity around the same time as Nana Plaza, this area was named after a cowboy hat-wearing African-American who opened the first bar back in the s. Live music shows embrace curious visitors as they enter the main street, and popular establishments include Susie Wongs, famous for its body painting, Tilac Bar, Baccara, and the eponymous Crazy House. Classic features underwater mermen and a swimming show, while Tawan puts on an impressive stage show rotating acts like dance performances, drag comedy, and more.
The workers in these establishments are often compensated through a variety of payment structures that vary from bar to bar. Most reputable places make sure your tab is kept right in front of you, however, so you can keep an eye on it and ensure transparency of pricing. Raids on establishments promoting sex tourism are already relatively routine in Bangkok, but are almost exclusively focused on the discovery of underage or illegal workers.
Prostitution is less black and white. While widely tolerated to date, increasing pressure on the Thai government could mean more enforcement in the near future. Save to Wishlist. Sex tourism in Thailand. Into the 21st century. Nana Plaza. Soi Cowboy. Soi Twilight. What to know if you go. Read Next.