The predominant popularity of sex tourism in South East Asia led to many foreign tourist attractions to their countries. South East Asia, notably Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, and Cambodia all have notorious red light districts promoted in guidebooks as a tourist attraction. Thus, it is not uncommon to sight family groups shopping in the open-air market while sex workers actively drag passers-by into strip clubs and bars that offers sex services on the same street. This paper is concerned with sex tourism and the images that it constructs for particular South East Asian countries. Through this paper we also explore the major kinds of sex tourisms and touch upon the psychological process behind it. Proposed ideas of correcting the negative image of sex tourism are presented for countries that hope for such changes.
The most widely accepted definition for sex tourism is the act of travelling to a foreign country to procure sexual services (Davidson and Taylor 2). Sex tourism takes place in many parts of the world and is undoubtedly the basis for many ongoing trafficking, physical abuses, and child prostitution. By defining 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 correspond better with the modern sex tourism image (Davidson and Taylor 2). Increasingly more tourists have traveled to South East Asian countries for sexual pleasures, making them the typical sex tourists that nourished the multi-billion dollar industry. Just looking at Thailand alone, about 70% of all tourist men who travelled there came specifically for sex (Green 1).
Question is, who are these people looking for sex tourism?
Sex and tourism are highly correlated subjects; an increase in the numbers of tourism induces an increase in sex tourism. There are various reasons for sex tourists to pay for commercial sex. According to Chang and Chen, on their study of Sex-Related Consumption by East Asians, “Tourists, e.g. might expect romantic or sexual encounters with locals at destinations, prepare to have sex with lovers during vacations” (Chang and Chen 2). Hobbs and Chandler suggests that men travel to Thailand to rediscover their masculinity. A study by Davidson and Taylor further backs up the theory of regaining masculinity through sex tourism, stating, “masculinity is a quality of being which is always incomplete, and which is equally based on a social as on a psychic reality.” (Davidson and Taylor 7). Because these sex tourists could not achieve the degrees of access to dominance over women in their domestic land, they seek for such power from foreign women who are powerless and sexually available. Furthermore, having access to as many ‘beautiful’ women as they want makes these sex tourists feel a sense of power over other men. Davidson and Taylor had categorized sex tourists into three major groups of men. There...