The Motivations of Sex Tourists

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Sex tourism refers to travel undertaken for the purpose of procuring sexual services at destinations worldwide. Male tourists tend to engage in this form of tourism more frequently and exploit female sex workers from poor countries for sexual gratification.

Berdychevsky found that women who fall within her “anonymity- and empowerment-seeking broad risk perceiver” cluster were highly motivated to take sexual risks as tourists, motivating her to advocate that sexual health messages focus on heightening risk awareness among these groups of individuals.

1. Escape from everyday life

Many sex tourists travel for the purpose of getting away from daily life and exploring sexual activity abroad as an escape route, whether that means lacking privacy at home or wishing to avoid moral obligations. Sex tourists may engage in risky sexual behaviors such as engaging with an unknown partner and even contracting an STD (sexually transmitted infection).

These tourists often disregard the potential physical/sexual, mental/emotional and social risks associated with their activities and view themselves as empowered and anonymous. Such women would benefit from health messages which highlight these risks while prompting them to reevaluate their values and behavior.

Recent research has demonstrated that many sex tourists travel abroad for the purpose of engaging in sexual activities that would otherwise be considered immoral or costly in their home countries. Garrick (2005) states that some Western men travel to Third World nations so as to regain patriarchal control of women by employing submissive sex workers at discounted prices.

2. Hedonistic drive

Some tourists consider sexual behavior an integral component of the tourism experience, allowing them to engage in sexual acts they would likely never engage in due to social norms in their home country. Traveling can provide an element of liminality which allows tourists to indulge in behavior they might be restricted from partaking in otherwise due to social pressures.

Sexual tourism is often motivated by an aim to combat modern feminism. According to Coles (2010), American white males travel for sex as an attempt to regain their masculinity by exploiting sex workers from lesser developed nations (Coles 2010).

Culture can impact attitudes toward sex tourism differently; locals sometimes actively support it by offering themselves for sexual consumption by tourists. Garrick notes that tourists’ racist notions help facilitate commercial sex workers from other nations being exploited through tourism by justifying his guilt-inducing involvement. Furthermore, families in poor rural areas sometimes sell children off to sex workers to support themselves financially in cities.

3. Modernity

Travel can provide some people with an opportunity to indulge in sexual activities they might normally restrain at home, according to Garrick (2005). Travel creates a sense of anonymity which makes it easier for individuals to engage in various sexual activities during their vacation destination stay.

Sex tourists are attracted to cultures they visit because they possess a modernity they lack in their own lives; thus they find comfort in engaging in romantic relations with local women in another country that offer something “different.”

Unfortunately, some sex tourists use their sexual activities for exploitative ends. Josephine Hamann from ECPAT believes that while most sex tourists are not pedophiles, buying sex with women and children in poor countries suggests they have an exploitative attitude toward human exploitation, particularly if paying with child prostitution money.

4. Desire to attack modern feminism

Men who engage in sex tourism to challenge modern feminism often do it to assert their masculinity against local female or male sex workers (Coles 2010). This behavior stems from culturally constructed eroticization of third world women who are seen as sexual beings free from Western feminist influence.

Facilitated by host countries’ efforts to feature women as an essential component of the tourist experience, which attracts those looking for sexual encounters with these fetishized females as part of the tourist experience. Garrick (2005) confirms this desire is further fuelled by tourism advertisements depicting natives as exotic.

As a result, various types of male sex tourists have been identified in literature; these range from the stereotypical “macho lad” asserting his sexual dominance over foreign women to white knights saving women from commercial sex work. Unfortunately, these male sex tourists may be unaware of how gender and race dynamics impact their relationships with sex workers in destination countries.

5. Social restraints

Research on sexuality and tourism often focuses on gay and lesbian travellers. However, heterosexual women should also be considered when considering what role sexuality and travel play in their lives.

This study employed semi-structured interviews as its research method. Interviews were conducted via email and included open-ended statements from an interview guide as well as continuation, elaboration, clarification and steering probes (Rubin & Rubin 2005). Furthermore, participants discussed sexual behavior differences during tourist experiences relative to home life during these conversations (Rubin & Rubin 2005).

This study revealed that although women often claim that sexual activities aren’t the main driving force for traveling, they feel compelled to engage in sexual activities while on vacation. According to their belief system, they need sex in order to fully enjoy the experience of tourism and enjoy themselves on holiday – perhaps this explains why so many choose countries such as Africa and Latin America where sexual activities can take place without fear of arrest for engaging in vice or exploitation.