A Distinction between Sex Tourism and Romance Tourism


Tourist is can be referred to as an activity that is characterized by taking a journey mainly for the purpose of leisure. The duration of the journey usually lasts from just a few days to a number of weeks. This involves going to famous and historic places, experiencing the culture, traditions, food, and weather that a specific area has to use.

Thesis Declaration

As the world has actually gotten smaller sized with the advent of transportation and contemporary technology, the tourists of today have grown to be more cultured and thus more demanding.

They know what they want. Tourists nowadays would like their travel representatives to be able to provide destinations and services that would cater to their particular requirements. This is where specific niche tourist can be found in. (Wikipedia the totally free encyclopedia, 2007).

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As the popular expression in the world of marketing states, "sex sells", sex indeed sells, and is among the particular requirements that the travel industry accommodates.

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Niche Tourism

Niche Tourism is tourism that not only affords the tourist the luxury of travelling to certain places. Apart from booking a destination and arranging for transfers and accommodation, niche tourism caters to specific needs of discriminating clients. There is something for everyone.  (Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, 2007)

Categories of niche tourism include but are not limited to the following:  Sports-oriented or physical activity niche tourism, learning-oriented, lifestyle-oriented and other miscellaneous types.  (Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, 2007)

   Sports-oriented or physical activity niche tourism includes activities such as hiking, mountaineering, backpacking, skiing, golf, and diving.

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  For the ultimate risk taker, there is extreme tourism is offered where activities such as base jumping, bungee jumping and other high-risk activities are offered.  For the intellectual types,  there is learning-oriented niche tourism which offers walking tours, bookstore tours, creative workshops, hobby tourism, and ancestry tourism, among others. Wine tours, gay tours, medical tours and accessible tourism, which caters to people with special needs all fall under lifestyle tourism. (Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, 2007)

Falling under the miscellaneous types of niche tourism are perhaps among the interesting and controversial types such as drug tourism (such as going purposely to Amsterdam to be able to use drugs freely), pilgrimages, space tourism and sex tourism.

Legality of Sex Tourism

Some countries consider prostitution legal. Chances are sex tourism is also legal in these places. However, unlike other crimes, prostitute is not regarded with the same level of disdain. The issues raised are more from a moral standpoint. Nations that are known to be extremely religious and that  tend to be absolutely against any form of prostitution. However, prostitution may still exist subversively. For example, a regular-looking spa could be a cover up for a prostitution den that comes alive once deep inside the establishment. When caught perpetrators are made to pay dearly for their crime.

Although more people have become open-minded with regard to prostitution over the years, many draw the line when prostitution already involves the use of minors and innocent children.

This has been a cause for alarm and many human rights groups have been involved in the fight against child prostitution, especially the type that involves child molesters. Efforts to attempt to wage war with this type of abuse have carried out, however many despicable but seemingly harmless individuals are still able to get away with this form of wickedness.

This can be attributed to the fact that life has been hard for most of the people who become involved in this trade. They see prostitution as their way out. Unfortunately, a majority of them are young girls who willingly fall victim to this vicious cycle. Instead of staying in school, they get involved in the flesh trade with hopes of leading their families towards a better future. They allow themselves to fall prey to unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of their situation.  (Hall & Ryan, 2001)

Amsterdam is an example of a place where prostitution, not to mention drugs, is legal. When in Amsterdam, it is common to see people in the sex industry openly “peddling” their wares and common to see potential clients “window shopping”.

Difference between sex tourism and romance tourism

The difference between sex tourism and romance tourism is the objective of going on the trip. The main goal of sex tourism is to go to a certain place and be able to avail of sexual intercourse. Clients who prefer romance tourism, on the other hand, go on such trips to find companionship and sex is not necessarily a part of the equation.  More often, women prefer romance tourism and men tend to favor sex tours.

Male sex tourism

Among the types of sex tourism, male sex tourism is perhaps the most proliferative and the most widely accepted. It is in fact normal to see men in girly bars mingling with girls hoping for a fling or a one-night stand.  In male sex tourism, sex is a plays a major role.

Female sex tourism - Origins

Sex tourism particularly female sex tourism proliferated during the Victorian era. Coincidentally it was during that time that feminism gained popularity. Female sex tourism first became known in England, in other parts of Europe and then later in the United States.  (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2007)

Female sex tourism is also known as romance tourism. The reason for this alternative term is that the aim of female sex tourism is not aimed mainly to be able to avail of sexual intercourse. The main purpose of women clients for going on such trips is to attempt to form a relationship based on affection.

Female sex tours are real tours wherein the women book flights and  accomodations with hopes of finding companionship with male escorts at their destination. Sex may or may not be part of the package. More often, what happens depends upon the discretion of the female client. Payments come in kind where women would shower the male escorts with extravagants gifts of clothes, meals at expensive restaurants.  Cash payments are also given; they vary on the “going rate” at certain destinations. The usual rate ranges from $50 to $200 a night. There are few, rare destinations where men don’t expect to be paid. Places that are known for this are Southern Europe, Turkey, Bali and the French Caribbean. (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2007)

Although female sex tours are available, majority of societies still frown on women who go looking for companionship in this way. There is still that double standard in society wherein it is perfectly fine for men to freely engage in sexual relations but an abomination for a woman to be caught in such a situation.

Terms Identified with Female sex tourists

The proliferation of sex tourism as an industry has resulted in the emergence of terms or jargon. Just like the rates, the names vary depending on the place. The terms are somewhat amusing, for example, female sex tourists are called ‘milk bottles’  in Jamaica especially if they are fresh from a trip, British call them ‘Shirley Valentines’, black female sex tourists are called Stellas and many others. (Wikipedia the free encyclopedia, 2007)

Likewise, the male escorts who render this type of service to these clients also have names. The Caribbean calls them several names from rent-a-gents to the Foreign Service. Greeks call them ‘kamakia’ which means fishing harpoons. Costa Rica calls them sharks. Peru calls them ‘brichero’.(Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2007)


The preferred destinations for male sex tourism are Latin America and East Asia. The reason for this is that a majority of men who engage in sex tourism tend to prefer women who are exotic looking and are more aware of their sensuality.  Not to mention that men in relationship going about their extramural or extramarital sexual activities in faraway places ensures that the chances of them getting caught is very little to zero.  A secondary reason is that a lot of people from these places have sort of welcomed the sex industry as their means of survival.  (Sex Tourism )

            The preferred destinations for female sex tourism are Southern Europe, the Caribbean and Africa.  The reason for this preference is that like men, women are drawn to certain physical characteristics and personality traits that only men from these regions possess.  (Sex Tourism)

Best Countries to go for Sex tourism

In Asia, Thailand is one of the most popular haunts for sex tourism. High-end brothels are situated in extremely progressive tourist spots like Phuket, Bangkok and Pattaya.  (Sex Tourism)

Taiwan, South Korea and Vietnam are similarly popular places in Asia. An interesting fact about Vietnam as a sex tourism spot is that freelance prostitutes are easily recognizable. Prostitutes in Saigon sport pale faces, making them easy to distinguish from the regular woman.  (Sex Tourism )

Another selling point for sex tourism in this region is that the price ranges are affordable compared to other parts of Asia like the Philippines where similar services in Manila are quite expensive.  (Sex Tourism)

The Caribbean and Latin America are known as the best. Brazil is considered as a cut above the rest for its beautiful women. Brazilian people are generally warm and although prostitution is considered illegal, people who operate bath houses and bars are armed to the teeth with information for clients who opt to avail of prostitution “ services”.  (Sex Tourism )

The Netherlands is the best in terms of accessibility. Prostitution is very much legal in Amsterdam. Perhaps one of the best testaments to this is the famous Casa Rosso. Casa Rosso is a well-known sex theater located in the red light district of the city.  (Sex Tourism )

In Eastern Europe, the Czech Republic is one of the best places for sex tourism. The Czech Republic has Prague which is famous for its clubs. Ukraine and Russia are known for romantic tours. (Sex Tourism )

Austria is another example of regulated prostitution, much like Amsterdam. However, Austria has set regulations for example, they forbid young men and women who are under the age of 18 to engage in prostitution. Having sexual relations with a minor is considered sexual abuse. Individuals engaging in the sex industry are required to be regularly tested for HIV, AIDs and STDs. Prostitutes are considered as self-employed individuals and are   obliged to pay taxes. (Sex Tourism )

Worst Countries to go for sex tourism

The United States is among the worst destinations for sex tourism. Prostitution is illegal for the most part of this country.  (Sex Tourism )

Middle Eastern countries where Islam is largely practiced totally prohibits prostitution. Women are highly respected and are not even allowed to go out alone in public in some places. Their culture also dictates that their women should wear appropriate clothing and something that bares much skin is not favored.  (Sex Tourism )

In Europe, Germany, France and England are not known for prostitution. Like the prices of most commodities in these places, rates of prostitution are exceedingly expensive.

In Israel, most women who work in this industry are much older women and are foreigners. Like the prices in Europe, rates for prostitution in Israel are also high.


The advent of modern conveniences and the information age has brought about numerous developments in all aspects of life. Sexuality is not left out. Human beings have become more particular with their wants and needs. People have become more open-minded and liberal about their opinions regarding many things that were once forbidden and unheard of. The proliferation of sex tourism is one of the results of these progressions.

In spite of all these liberties, it is important to be responsible of one’s own actions. People who would settle on experiencing these liberties should also be aware of their limits. If these freedoms are abused, they are in danger of being taken away.

It is important to weigh the consequences of such precarious actions. A lot of factors need to be considered. An individual considering on embarking on such an activity should realize that once it is done, it will be difficult to turn back and reverse the possible repercussions.

First, one must consider the effect such activities may have on his relationships. Should a committed man or woman engage in extramarital affairs, once he or she is caught, the incident will cause a major strain that could be beyond repair. Second, one must consider the physical consequences. Engaging in sexual promiscuity without the proper protection could lead to one contracting sexually transmitted diseases that are potentially deadly. Moreover, one could end up with unwanted pregnancy which could completely alter a person’s life. Third, one should think about the moral implications of  taking on such activities. A person may be able to get away with so much during  his lifetime but he may forever be  disconcerted by his conscience.


Hall, C. M., & Ryan, C. (2001). Sex Tourism Marginal people and liminalities. London and New York: Routledge.

Law, L. (2000). Sex Work in Southeast Asia: The Place of Desire in a Time of AIDS. London: Routledge.

Sex Tourism . (n.d.). What is sex tourism? Retrieved November 7, 2007, from Sex Tourism : http://sex-tourism.org/index.html

Wikipedia the free encyclopedia. (2007, November 6). Tourism. Retrieved November 6, 2007, from Wikipedia the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism#Recent_developments

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2007, October 13). Female sex tourism. Retrieved November 7, 2007, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_sex_tourism

Updated: Feb 22, 2021
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A Distinction between Sex Tourism and Romance Tourism. (2017, Mar 07). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/a-distinction-between-sex-tourism-and-romance-tourism-essay

A Distinction between Sex Tourism and Romance Tourism essay
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