Sex Tourism and the Internet: Information, Amplification, and Moral Panics

Sex Tourism and the Internet: Information, Amplification, and Moral Panics

Jerry Eades (Ritsumeikan Asian Pacific University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-949-6.ch093
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This chapter examines the relationship between the Internet and sex tourism. It argues that interest in sex tourism in the media erupted in the early 1990s, about the same time that the Internet itself was becoming popular. The relationship between the two was both positive and negative. On the one hand, the Internet has allowed members of sexual subcultures to contact each other and for new forms of sex tourism to be marketed. On the other hand, the Internet also provided a platform for those opposed to sex tourism to raise the profile of the issue, in the process conflating images of sex tourism with those of Internet pornography, pedophilia, and child abuse, particularly in relation to tourism destinations in the Southeast Asian region. It has therefore aided the amplification of moral panics surrounding these issues. This sensational coverage has, however, tended to overshadow other forms of sex tourism, including those in which consenting adults meet together in resorts of clubs for recreational sex with each other. Thus, while the Internet has created moral panics and led to crackdowns in certain sections of the sex tourism market, it has allowed other alternative lifestyles to flourish on an unprecedented scale in an increasingly liberalized environment.

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