It’s no surprise that Thailand is on the top of this list, considering the popularity of Bangkok’s red light district and portrayals of it in films like The Hangover Part II.Thailand takes the number one spot even though prostitution is not strictly legal there. However, in reality it is partly regulated and tolerated and a vital part of the country’s tourism industry.The industry really started in the country during the Vietnam War and hasn’t slowed since.Many Thai people believe that prostitution and tolerating other’s lifestyles are a necessary part of Thai culture, so the ‘oldest profession in the world’ has flourished here, including the famous ‘ladyboys’. There are approximately 3 million sex workers in Thailand, of whom roughly a third are minors. Unfortunately, a large number of the sex workers in Thailand are prostitutes through human trafficking, although the industry is often well regulated and the sex workers are there by choice.
Brazil has always been a popular tourist destination due to its exotic wildlife, beautiful people, pristine beaches and raucous festivals like Carnival. But it appears that Brazil might be vying for the number one spot for sex tourism as well. Additionally, Brazil is a popular destination for female sex tourism, which generally doesn’t see rates as high as male sex tourism. Brazil’s government has been especially watchful for sex tourism and sex trafficking during preparations for the World Cup, but the thriving sex trade doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Brazil is a country with an extremely supportive outlook on legal prostitution. For example, the government provided free English, Spanish and German lessons to their native sex workers in the run up to the World Cup to help them chat up potential clients. They also launched an ‘I’m a happy prostitution’ campaign to promote a more positive outlook on the industry.Brazil looks set to become the number one sex tourism destination in the world in the next few years, despite that fact that brothels are still illegal.
Cities like Ibiza, Madrid and Barcelona have long been tourist destinations for all night clubbing, but a new kind of tourist activity is starting to increase in Spain. Prostitution is legal in Spain, making it one of the top destinations in Europe for sex tourism. In Madrid, the red light district is interwoven with regular streets, so it’s very accessible, whereas in Barcelona, the red light district is a popular tourist attraction. Surprisingly, there are often more South American sex workers present in Spain than Spanish sex workers, and many of the women are basically slaves to the sex industry. Although the film, Taken depicted France as a major player in the sex trafficking industry, Spain is one of the most popular European destinations for sex tourism.
Colombian women are undoubtedly among the most beautiful in the world, this certainly is one of the factors that has aided its reputation as a global sex tourism capital.While the sex trade is completely legal and accepted in the country, the Government of Colombia is making efforts to fight child prostitution, sexual slavery and human trafficking.
5. The Philippines
Although prostitution is illegal and often comes with harsh punishments in the Philippines, the sex tourism trade is alive and well. There are approximately 500,000 sex workers who masquerade as bar girls in the Philippines, and most clients are businessmen from East Asia or Western countries. Filipinos tend to be extremely tolerant of diverse lifestyles, which may be one reason why prostitution and sex tourism have flourished in the Philippines. One of the most shocking things about sex tourism in the Philippines is the sheer volume of it – a whopping 40-60% of tourists who visit the country are estimated to have traveled to the Philippines for sex tourism alone.
6. The Netherlands
Amsterdam is the top spot for sex tourism in the Netherlands, thanks to its infamous red light district. The red light district is popular for both standard tourists and sex tourists alike, and sex shops, peep shows, strip clubs and countless prostitutes selling their wares behind red-lit glass windows abound. Prostitution is legal and well regulated in Amsterdam, which arguably creates safer conditions for sex workers. Prices in Amsterdam generally range from 35-100 Euros, depending on the time of day, as well as the client’s age and attractiveness.
7. Dominician Republic
Many Caribbean countries are seeing a rise in sex tourism, especially female sex tourism, and the Dominican Republic is no exception. It is estimated that anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 women work in the sex trade in the Dominican Republic, and many cross over from Haiti as well. Prostitution is not illegal in the Dominican Republic, although sex with minors is, and sadly many of the sex workers here are minors. The country’s sex tourism trade may be so popular due to its relative accessibility from both the United States and Europe.
Prostitution is illegal in Malaysia, however, the laws are not enforced at all and sexual services are widely available. It is all under the radar but the demand is very high in cities likePenang, Kuala Lumpur, and Ipoh.The dark side of the industry is strong with many of the sex workers being trafficked in from neighbouring countries such as China.
Cambodia has strict laws regarding prostitution, but the practice is still extremely relevant, and Cambodia remains a popular destination for sex tourism. Cambodia’s rocky history during the twentieth century, including the Khmer Rouge, caused laws regarding prostitution to rise and fall in varying degrees of severity. Currently, Cambodia is plagued by problems with child sex tourism. Stricken by debilitating poverty, parents sometimes sell their own children into sex slavery, while others are tricked into the industry. A child’s virginity is often extremely valuable and will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Additionally, violence against sex workers is common. Unfortunately, sex tourism has cast a dark shadow over Cambodia, and many are left without alternatives.
Like many other places on this list, the driving force behind the flourishing sex tourism industry in Kenya is poverty. Prostitution among the poor, uneducated and often young prostitutes in Kenya, has spurred the spread of HIV/AIDS, because few sex workers are educated about the dangers of STIs. Often, children as young as 12 fall victim to the sex tourism industry in Kenya. Many young girls in Kenya only use a condom 60% of the time, although they frequently see up to five clients per day. Despite these dangers, prostitution is not discouraged by the Kenyan Tourism Police, for the country desperately needs the economic boost from tourism. Kenya is a popular destination among older white women, from mainly the USA and UK, who want to purchase a ‘holiday romance’ with a local man.