SEX TOURISM CAN BE FREQUENTLY BASED ON NOTIONS OF THE EXOTIC `OTHER`

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Sex tourism can be frequently based on notions of the exotic ‘other’

SEXTOURISM CAN BE FREQUENTLY BASED ON NOTIONS OF THE EXOTIC ‘OTHER’

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Tourismis usually a very high foreign exchange earner for many developingcountries. Most of these tourists hail from developed westerncountries. They visit these third world countries and spend moneythere while sightseeing and experiencing the local life. The localgovernment in turn usually actively promotes tourism and tries toencourage foreigners to visit their countries. The governments arekeen on promoting this tourism industry to earn more revenue forfurther development of their countries. However, tourism has led to agrowth of a vice known as sex tourism. This involves mainly a westerntourist who visits these developing countries specifically to indulgein sexual pleasures with the local men, women or even children. Mostof these sex tourists usually have this motive due to theadvertisements they receive from most travel agencies. An example isa slogan that promotes tourism in Thailand. The slogan reads as,“Welcome to Thailand, where all your fantasies could be fulfilled.”This leads to western tourists, most of whom are male, to view suchdeveloping countries as an easy source of sex and all the fantasiesthey have. Although prostitution is usually there in their homecountries, they prefer the foreign destinations (Bloor, et al. 1997).This is due to the manner that prostitutes from the developingcountries treat the tourists. They are not only there to provide sex,but the local women would also act as unpaid tour guides as well aspersonal house cleaners. The western tourists see this as a perfectway to spend their money on prostitution since in their minds they donot view it as a vice. Prostitution in the western countries isusually extremely commercialized. The men who prefer this foreignprostitution usually crave for something more than just the physicalact. The women, in turn, are eager to service these men since theyare willing to pay for the services that are provided (Albuquerque,1999). There have been many discussions due to this sex tourism. Thishas been large because of a public outcry mainly from feminists andfemale organizations. They view this booming business as anexploitation of basic human rights. The leadership of the statesinvolved in this trade prefers to turn a blind eye, as they do notwant to interfere with it. They fear that if they become firm onthese sex tourists, they might start losing visitors, which willtranslate to less revenue being generated. This, therefore, leads toa situation where nothing can be done to end this activity. Manywriters and journalists have tried to generate theories that explainthe growth of this industry. Some try to say that as long as thesource, which is western tourists, will always be there, the supplywill never cease. This statement claims to say that it is thetourists themselves who are to blame for the rise in the sex trade(Rosenthal, et al. 1998). Other publications claim that the localpeople themselves are the ones who promote this industry and aretherefore to blame for its high growth. The discussion below willcompare both sides of these claims on the booming sex tourismindustry. The discussion will focus on whether this sex tourism ismainly promoted by the western tourists or by the allure of theexotic ‘other’.

TheWestern Tourists

Thewestern tourists have the money and enough influence to promote thissex tourism. They usually tour the under developed countries to enjoyand indulge in some activities that are frowned upon in their homecountries. Most of the travel agencies as well target such men bytrying to sell sex. They are allured by how beautiful and willing thelocal women are. Such agencies provide tour packages that come verycheaply and usually involve groups of men traveling together (Dahles,e al. 1999). These men will be provided for when it comes toaccommodation, food and even a local female companion for a very lowprice. These packages are usually openly advertised without any formof discretion. The governments of these countries where the sextourists come from are adamant on performing any action to curb thisvice. They normally see sex tourism as a problem that involve thoseunderdeveloped countries and not as their problem. This reluctance totake any action has resulted in further enhancement of this industry.It has even led to some devious tourists who tour the underdevelopedto partake in acts that are morally wrong and even illegal in theirhome countries. Such include pedophiles and child pornographers. Theypay for the services and get what they want without any hustle. Othertourists just tour to gain experience with exotic women (Bloor etal., 1998). This is just to use as a badge of honor that one will useto brag on their friends once they return to their country. Othersjust have a sexist and racist view on these women and are thereforekeen to subjugate them to all forms of physical and emotional abuseto fill their egos. All these mental views are some of the majorreasons why sex tourism is on the rise in the developing countriessuch as Brazil, The Philippines, and Thailand.

TheLocals

Thenotion of the locals towards this sex industry is usually to turn ablind eye on it. The acts performed in this business are usuallymorally wrong and go against all codes of conduct among the localculture. The main reason this behavior is tolerated is due to highlevels of poverty. A very large percentage of the population of thecountries involved in the sex tourism is living below the povertyline. Most of the women involved in the trade are uneducated and lackprofessional skills to get a conventional job. Some cultures, forexample in Thailand, the eldest daughter of a given family is usuallythe one who acts as the breadwinner. This makes their familiestolerate their activities as long as the family is well provided for.Some of these women are widowed or have estranged husbands, yet theyhave children to support. This makes them willing to sacrifice theirbodies so that they provide for their children. Some of the womencrave the western life and are willing to sell themselves to thetourists (Sanchez, 1997). They imagine that the tourist might fall inlove with them and, therefore, take them back to their country wherethey will have better lives. This usually happens for some thoughnot all are rescued from their lives of abject poverty. It is,therefore, apparent that the pursuit of money and a better life iswhat pushes these women to keep promoting this sex industry.

Conclusion

Thesex tourism can be argued that it is mainly influenced by the westerntourists and the travel agencies that keep promoting such places assexual destinations. This results in a booming industry where adeveloping country earns billions of dollars on the tourism industrywhile a very large percentage of the tourists visit mainly for sex.The locals who see it as a means of earning their daily breadtolerate this behavior (Clift, et al. 1999). For this activity to becurtailed, several strict steps should be taken. The governments ofthe countries where these tourists come from should be more involvedin the situation. The travel agencies that promote sex packagesshould be lobbied, and people should boycott them. The localcountries that are the tourism destinations should ensure that theircitizens are offered more education so that they can get employmentlocally and do not have to resort to the sex trade. The governmentshould also be strict when it comes to monitoring and preventing thisillegal trade. When all of these steps are observed, the sex tourismcan finally be curbed.

ReferencingList

Albuquerque,K. 1999. ‘Sex,Beach Boys and Female Tourists in the Caribbean’, in B. M. Dank andR. Refinetti (eds.), Sex Work and Sex Workers: Sexuality and Culture,Vol.2.New Jersey: New Brunswick.

Bloor,M., Thomas, M., Hood, K.,Abeni, D., Boujou, C., Hausser, D., Hubert,M., Dieter, K. and Nieto, J.A. 1997.‘FeasibilityStudy for Co-operated Community Action on the Improved Targeting ofHIV/AIDS Campaigns Amoung International Travellers: Final Report’.Cardiff: School of Social and Administrative Stuides, CardiffUniversity of Wales (unpublished). 762jacqueline sánchez taylor

Bloor,M., Thomas, M., Hood, K.,Abeni, D., Boujou, C., Hausser, D., Hubert,M., Dieter, K. and Nieto, J.A. 1998.‘Differencesin Sexual Risk Behaviour between Young Men and Women TravellingAbroad from the UK’.TheLancet352:1664–8.

Clift,S. and Forrest, S. 1999.‘FactorsAssociated with Gay Men’s Sexual Behaviour and Risk on Holiday’.AIDS Care11:281–95.

Conway,S., Gillies, P. and Slack, R. 1990, ‘TheHealth of Travellers’.Nottingham: Department of Public Health Medicine and Epidemiology,University of Nottingham and Nottingham Health Authority(unpublished).

Dahles,H. and Bras, B. 1999. ‘Entrepreneursin Romance: Tourism in Indonesia’.Annals of Tourism Research26:267–93.

EconomicIntelligence Unit (EIU) 1998a.County Profile: Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico 1998–1999.London: Economic Intelligence Unit.

Pruitt,D. and LaFont, S. 1995. ‘ForLove and Money: Romance Tourism in Jamaica’.Annals of Tourism Research22:422–40.

Rosenthal,D., Gifford, S. and Moores, S. 1998. ‘SafeSex or Safe Love: Competing Discourses’.Aids Care10:35–47.

SánchezTaylor, J. 1997. ‘Markingthe Margins: Research in the Informal Economy in Cuba and theDominican Republic’.Discussion Papers in Sociology, No. S97/1.

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