Around the world, between 13 and 19 million people under the age of 18 work in an occupation tied to tourism, according to the ILO. This represents some 10-15% of the tourism workforce. Underpinning these high numbers is poverty. For children from families too poor to send them to school, tourism can present opportunities to earn an income. In many destinations, this is a stark example of how the supposed wealth generated by tourism is not being equally shared across society. It can also leave children open to one the most abhorrent forms of exploitation – child sex tourism.
Child Sex Tourism
Every year, countless numbers of children are sexually abused by tourists. Child sex tourism is the commercial sexual exploitation of children in tourism. It exists all over the world and is committed by both foreign and domestic tourists. Despite concerted international efforts to combat child sex tourism, it is an increasing phenomenon. The internet, low cost travel, border relaxations and visa free travel are making it more challenging to monitor and prevent. Meanwhile, endemic poverty in tourism destinations all over the world ensures that there will be people in positions of power willing to exploit vulnerable children.
In Vietnam, a child’s services can be sold for just a few pounds with the trafficking of child sex workers becoming increasingly popular.
Known child sex tourism hotspots include Cambodia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Eastern Europe, The Gambia, India, Kenya, The Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Tobago, Venezuela, and Vietnam.