If we talk about sex tourism most people assume that we are talking about a country like Thailand where sex tourism heavily occurs. Nevertheless sex tourism also occurs in the South of Europe in a country such as Bulgaria. Bulgaria, especially Sunny Beach which is situated at the Black Sea and offers a long boulevard with numerous bars, restaurants, discotheques, strip clubs and brothels is a very attractive location for sex tourism.
Young adults (between the ages of 16 and 30, with an average of 20) from all over the world travel to Bulgaria to spend their vacation in Sunny Beach and because of the increasing number of tourists the rates of sex tourism are also increasing. If we are talking about sex tourism in Sunny Beach we are not talking about sex tourism in the way of going to a country especially to have sex with local residents (especially children) there. In this case, sex tourism is described as going to Sunny Beach to party, drink a substantial amount of alcohol and then visit a strip club or brothel and eventually this can lead to having sex with a prostitute. In Sunny Beach it is also common for prostitutes to offer themselves by approaching males of all ages and invite them for sex. (Hesse & Tutenges, 2010)
What is noticed from the article is that a large amount of the present young adults (from Sweden) in Sunny Beach are ‘first timers’, which means they are visiting strip clubs and brothels for the first time and paying the employees for having sex. This is associated with ‘heavier drinking both on holiday and at home’ (Hesse & Tutenges, 2010), the use of Viagra and the absence of using a condom while having sex.
The discussion is about whether or not the attendance of the questioned respondents in strip clubs and them paying for sex is different from their behaviour at home (in Denmark), if it goes about the amount of alcohol that is consumed, the use of Viagra and on the situation that the persons are travelling with or without family members.
My view on all of the above (also based on my personal experience from going to Sunny Beach) is that young adults do behave differently then at home. The young adults experience less restraints then at their hometown and this can result in wild behaviour. The slogan which is mentioned frequently is that ‘everything is possible on a vacation’ and this is again enlarged by substantial consumption of alcohol (which is really low priced at Sunny Beach). Having fun is the main reason for going on a holiday and when the young adults are without their parents or other elder important persons in their lives, this can result in behaviour which is significantly different from the behaviour that they have at home because they want to explore their own limits.
But why should people behave differently when they are in a new environment away from their trusted home situation? Is it about showing how tough they are? Or is it just a natural habit for young adults to explore all of life? It is not yet clear what the motivation is for these young adults to visit the strip clubs and brothels, therefore more research is necessary. But if you ask me, I would say that it is in the nature of all young adults to explore all sides of tourism, including ‘sex-tourism’.
Hesse, M., & Tutenges, S. (2011). Young tourists visiting strip clubs and paying for sex. Tourism Management, 32(4), 869-874 – Link to reference article.