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Impact of Sex Tourism on Thailand

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 3400 words Published: 11th Jan 2018

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The purpose of this project is to provide an overview of the sex tourism industry in Thailand. Moreover, discuss what it is as well as consider the motivations behind it. This paper will also focus on the benefits and disadvantages, particularly the domestic social consequences of sex tourism within Thailand.

The accessibility problem of the tourism industry has caused prostitution to grow steadily throughout many parts of the world and includes men (Garrick, 2005), women and children. Furthermore, the sex tourism is a major source of abuse that goes beyond professional ethics and legality. Although prostitution is legal in some countries, it thrives regardless with children, women and men involved in this ubiquitous profession – legally or illegally. Nowadays, sex tourism is one of leading commercial industries that lurk in almost every business.

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Good or Bad? This research will show how the negative effects of sex tourism far outweigh the benefits. Many organizations, both public and private collaborations, are against sex tourism, even though Thailand’s revenue comes from sex tourism more than other business (Rao, 1999; Sharpley & Stone, 2009). However, there are many supporters such as restaurants, hotels, resorts and tour agencies that could lose a lot of money from this veiled industry if the resisters decide to eliminate prostitution, but such actions can possibly decrease the rate of abuse and diseases, especially AIDS(Prideaux, et al., 2004).

Keywords: tourism, sex tourism, child sex tourism, sex tourist, push and pull factor, Thailand, prostitution, AIDS


The international tourism industry is blooming. Tourism is the world’s most important industry which is growing rapidly and increasing every year. In the year 1972 to 1976, Thailand is one of the countries that have experienced tourism growth since the first Thai tourism plan was set up in 1976 at the end of third National Economic and Social Development Plan (NESDP) (Chaisawat, 2005). Thailand has become one of the best known, and most sought after, international tourist destinations.

Thailand is a country with long history and it is also a beautiful city, the attraction of the scenery in Thailand where not less than the other country (Nations Online, 2010). Moreover, Thailand is probably one of the most well-known spots for the perfect beach paradise. Its natural beauty makes it perfect for people seeking a little hideaway (Beachden, 2010). Thailand has become the most popular tourist destination in South East Asia.

Tourism has become Thailand’s leading source of foreign exchange, and thus plays an unquestionably important role in the Thai economy. At the same time, Th ailand is suffering from many of the negative aspects of tourism, including prostitution, drug addiction, AIDS, erosion of traditional values, increases in the cost of living, unequal income distribution, rapid increases in land prices in some locations, pollution, and environmental degradation (Prideaux, et al., 2004).

According to Crompton (1979, pp.408-424) states that ‘the push factors for a vacation are socio-psychological motives, for instant people go to aboard that because political crisis in Thailand, it also include terrorism in three province of Sothern’s border. The pull factors are motives aroused by the destination rather than emerging exclusively from within the traveller himself, such as visitor come to Thailand for sex trade ‘. People travel for many reasons. In addition, sex is not the main reason, but it is a relative factor for motivating people of all ages and nationalities to turn more towards traveling (Sangpikul, 2008). Anyway, no one can deny that sex is not a motivating factor (Hall, 1996).The number of international tourist arrivals to Thailand are more male than female tourist. According to UNWTO reported that in the year 2008, the number of international tourist arrivals in the year 2006 to 2008 was increased (UNWTO, 2009). Several tourists have the same objectives that are encouraged for have a sexual intercourse.

However, Thailand has been involved with a kind of tourism called the international sex tourism (Pettman, 1997).The relationship between tourism and sex can be described as “the seeking of romance as perhaps a precursor to sexual activities play as motivators for travel; the nature of the encounter and the role played by tourism as facilitators of romantic and sexual encounter.

The purpose of this report is concern of the sex tourism in Thailand. Beside, this essay would like to describe and to discuss in the advantages and disadvantages of sex tourism to tourism industry in Thailand.


Sex tourism is a very lucrative industry that spans the globe. Of course, the burgeoning sex industry has its dark sides (Rao, 1999). But as sex is a human need and prostitution is here to stay, we should think about a pro-active and realistic approach to deal with the situation.

Although, sex tourism is the part of dark side but the earning is come from sex tourism more than other tourism (Sharpley & Stone, 2009). The statistics cannot be shown how much of the percentage constitutes tourists who come for sexual services. Nevertheless, it the high male sex ratio is associated with sex tourism, and then the trend is increasing rather than decreasing. Sex tourism, present throughout the world, is particular prevalent in Southeast Asia, where the connected problems of human trafficking, AIDS, and poverty, continue to flourish and claim lives at unprecedented rates( Croughs et al, 2005).

According to Jeffrey (2003, pp.224) is defined ‘sex tourism has generally been applied to behavior of tourists whose purpose is to engage in commercial sex with local women in tourist destinations, it can have a wider application’. Moreover, sex tourism as travel undertaken primarily or exclusively by men from developed countries, usually to third world countries, for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity, often of an extreme, forbidden, or illegal nature (Travel Industry Dictionary, 2010).In other word, sex tourism as consisting of people from economically developed nations travelling to underdeveloped countries’ specifically to purchase the sexual services of local women [and men], it embraces a far broader range of people, activities and location (Enloe,1990). For others, however, it means purchasing sexual services from a woman, man, or even a child, and imagining themselves as Love Gods. It cannot be denied that the sex tourism industry has diversified beyond the traditional conceptualizations that label it as a predominantly patriarchal form of exploitation and leisure (Garrick, 2005).

Sex tourism includes domestic sex tourism, which is travel within the same country, or international sex tourism which involves travel across national borders. It is a multibillion dollar industry that supports an international workforce estimated to number in the millions (Revista, 2002). It has been argued by some people that sex tourism benefits not only the sex industry but also the airline, taxi, restaurant and hotel industries (Jones, 1946-2006). Human Rights organizations warn that sex tourism contributes to human trafficking and child prostitution (Guzder, 2009).

Seriously, child sex tourism is involved to the sex tourism. Even though, ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) as the international organizations that care about child prostitution. And children illegally brought into the profession to see that, in third world countries are tourism promotion mainly to do with the sun, sea and sex that intended for tourists to have sex (ECPAT International, 2010). Mostly from developed countries such as Australia, New Zealand, English, French. As well as some of the developing countries like China, Malaysia, Singapore, tourists are concentrated in large areas such as Pattaya, Manila, Phnom Penh as a tourist destination with heavy clubs and bars, as well as other entertainment venues.

Who is a sex tourist? According to Rao (1999, pp.96) ‘it is a man who is going through a mid-life crisis, who has been disenchanted with his enjoyment of life due to feminism and woman’s liberation rhetoric; a man who is tired of taking a politically correct position on his sexual preferences because of social pressure sex tourist can be a worker, professional, or manager, but all of them want to feel like real men’. Moreover, a good definition, those who travel to a country for the sole purpose of having sex, see it as an opportunity, or even an entitlement, to have sex available for less money than they would pay at home.

Sex tourists trend not to differentiate between buying groceries, and going to the brothel to buy sex-both provide someone with economic sustenance. They perceive that those involved in the industry are making a choice to sell their service.

Sex tourism in Thailand in the past found that tourism is related to the sex, activities or services by prostitutes. In the past, sex tourism in Thailand that often seen in cities or large cities such as Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Chiang Mai.

Presently, the sex tour was hidden to the general tourism such as festival; Full Moon party at Kho Phangan is located on southern of Thailand. Thailand and the Philippines, sex shows are presented with the primary purpose of gaining pleasure simply from watching (Latza quoted in Opperman, 1999). From this Opperman subvert the original definition by asking what the criteria are for definition sex tourism. Would oral sex, hand jobs, or watching a sex show be enough to qualify a tourist as a sex tourist?


Ryan and Kinder (1996, pp.516) argued that ‘to regards sex tourism as some form of deviance, as something that foreign to the intrinsic nature of tourism, is mistake’. However, it is important to note that prostitutes are the key ingredient in the sex tourism industry (Bird&Donaldson, 2009).

The prostitution is one occupation that has the longest and ancient history in the world. It was recovered that after shuffle goods system or origins money goes up by give a woman engages in sexual intercourse with the other(except her spouse) for religion reason, for show arrive at having mind generousness to welcome visitor, show arrive at the worth of bring governor of a province

(Taylor, 2006).

Prostitution in Third World and emerging Nations, disregarding the subsistence economy (economical method which – except for exchange of goods – embarks the purpose to cover the personal requirements) and the development of the rural areas by falling row material prices on the world market and the subsidization individual exporting business sectors leads to a growing depletion of the rural population. As in many of these countries tourism makes big part of the cross national product more importance is attached to the development of mass tourism rather than on other essential measures to counteract the depletion of big parts of the population (Taylor, 2006).

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Thus the number of women and men prostituting themselves in emerging countries grows in parallel in the same measure as tourism increases. In most of these countries, same as in Thailand, prostitution is forbidden. However the “service providing” women and men are the ones suffering from these restrictions (Taylor, 2006). As the device bringing foreigners must not be scared off long term suitors only have to reckon with penalties rarely.

Due to this poorness in these countries a growing migration into cities can be observed. Many countrymen flee into the cities as there the chances for economical “success” and covering the family is bigger than in the infrastructural neglected rural areas where they derive from. Poorness, missing education, lack of jobs, no alternatives in career, low wages and missing social coverage are the main reasons for the growing number of prostitutes.

Prostitution for foreign visitors developed into a major industry, although official Thailand shrouds its economic and social significance in misinformation and variety of interesting hypocrisies. Prostitutes come mainly from poor northern Thailand; however, there are now some educated prostitutes coming from the cities, as well as prostitutes from all neighboring countries and even Eastern Europe. No one can deny a lot of earning is come from sex tourism more than other industry. Although, the prostitute is rapid growth same as sex tourism but it a quite good signal that it also mean many tourist come to Thailand and high exchange rate within Thailand.

Concisely, Sex tourism has become a major source of income in some countries, particularly those with poor and underprivileged sectors, to the point that some countries have even tried to promote the business (Nuttavuthisit, 2007). In addition to the sex tourism related with hospitality industry, they are get the revenue and more people are employed from sex tourism, such as restaurant, bar, hotel, massage etc. 

The one reason is sex worker and sex tourist will negotiation in those place then they can get money from all service which they sold their product. For instant, the prostitute and sex tourist are communicate by website or web board on internet, after that they have appointment in some restaurant. While they made negotiation in their business that they have to order something to eat or drink. That is why everybody can get income when the sex tourists come to Thailand for sex trade.


Internet has provided a convenient marketing way that is accounting for the recent rise in sex tourism. Websites provide potential sex seekers with pornographic accounts written by other sex tourists. Here can be found details of sexual exploits with information on sex establishments and prices in various destinations and how to specifically procure prostitutes. Sex tour travel agents even publish brochures and guides on the Internet (Chow-White, 2006). Governments in need of income from the sex tourism turn a blind eye to the sexual exploitation.

Moreover, sex tourism on the internet is at the confluence of issues of race, gender, sexuality, technology and globalization (Chow-White, 2006). Increasingly, information and communication technologies(ICTs), such as the internet, are playing a particularly significant role not only in the promotion and packaging of sex tourism but a new type of global surveillance of bodies, race and desire(Gabriel,1998;Ware & Back, 2002).

In contrast, prostitution tourism has been promoted by the Government in the Philippines because of its profitability. Income generated from visitor arrivals in 1992 was US$1.67 billion and in 1993 was US$2.12 billion (Jeffreys, 1999), but sex tourism in Thailand is illegal in some business so the Thailand tourism authority (TAT) cannot promote same as Philippines. Moreover, Thailand is the root of Buddhism. The sex trade is wrong ethic.

In other word, to the common opinion prostitution in Thailand is due to the informal handling of sexuality or has its roots in Buddhism, prostitution was imported by Chinese guest-workers. At the beginning with Chinese women which were in the course of time more and more replaced by locals. The degree of prostitution as it can be observed in Thailand today is a direct consequence of the Vietnam War.

Many of them are forced to become what is known as, “ Bangkok Tour Girls “.This form of exploitation is not only limited to local prostitution but has paved way for sex tourism, earning Thailand the notorious distinction of ‘Brothel of the World’.

The sex tourism statistics of Thailand invite worldwide criticisms. Among these, one third fraction is minors. There are absolutely no records indicating the number of Thai women and children being trafficked to various other countries in Asia, US, Australia and Europe.

The sex industry in Thailand generates fantasies. There are the fantasies of pliant girls which draw the western sex tourists, and then there are the fantasies of lurid exploitation which draw the western sex tourists, and then there are the fantasies of lurid exploitation which draw the western moralizers and NGOs. But what is the actual scale of prostitution in Thailand? And how serious is the trafficking problem?

Many organizations, both public and private collaborations, are against sex tourism, even though the revenue comes from sex tourism ore than other tourism. However, there are many supporters such as restaurants, hotels, resorts and tour agencies that could lose a lot of money from this veiled industry if the resisters decide to eliminate prostitution, but such actions can possibly decrease the rate of abuse and diseases, especially AIDS.

Thailand undeniably has serious problems regarding the sex trade, as do many other countries. There is, however, a perception that the problem is much worse in Thailand because many people think that the country provides easy access to these types of services. Thailand’s sex industry has become a tourist attraction in itself, with red light districts being recommended in several reputable guidebooks (Kusy, 1991). Estimates of the number of prostitutes in Thailand vary widely and are subject to controversial debate.

Although, sex tourism in Thailand is make the money more that other business but TAT still against this business that because a lot of victim of trafficking from child (TATnews, 2010).

The rapid spread of AIDS in Thailand has had a decided impact on the tourism industry in that the country’s reputation for having a high incidence of AIDs discourages desirable tourists from visiting it. Likewise the tourism industry has had considerable impact on the spread of AIDS in Thailand ( McCamish, et al.,2002).

Thailand has long been promoted as the “sex capital” of the world; encouraging tourists to come to Thailand specifically for this reason obviously brings a higher transmission of the disease from sources both inside and outside the country. It should be noted that there are other important factors contributing to the high incidence of AIDS and HIV-positive cases in Thailand which have nothing to do with the tourism industry, one major one being Thai males’ penchant for frequenting prostitutes both before and after marriage. Initially, the Thai government did not take prompt and appropriate action to deal with the AIDS crisis. It did not try to curtail the sex industry, believing that it would naturally fade as the economy prospered and job opportunities increased. Later, as the government began to realize the severity of the situation, it tackled the problem only by promoting the use of condoms, rather than by using a multi-pronged approach, which would have included the attenuation of the sex industry.


Thailand is a country with long history. There are also many interesting attractions. Contrast, travelers visit to Thailand for sexual intercourse. Although, quite revenues are come from sex tourism, but it also has many disadvantages that because of the rapidly growing in sex tourism same as the prostitution is the one of immoral.

Otherwise, Thailand is a Buddhist country, it made the prostitution is wrong ethic. On the other word, the prostitution is increasing due to revenues beautiful. Moreover, It is easy to do and easy to get more money. The people who play in the prostitution are always forgotten Safety, such as forgot the condom that they can get easily AIDS and world widely expand. 

Sex tourism is a significant part of Thailand’s economy. If governments and related agencies are collaborate in the development of sex tourism and prostitute to be legal, maybe the image of Thailand’s tourism will be change in the good way (Taylor, 2006). Moreover, people who work in sex trade does not have to go to abroad for done their job.


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