Female sex tourism  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Female sex tourism is travel by women, partially or fully for the purpose of having sex.



Female sex tourism differs from male sex tourism in that women do not use bars, sex shows and formal tours to meet foreign men. There are "de facto" tours, however, such as airplanes bound to the Gambia in West Africa full of British and Scandinavian women seeking affairs with beach boys.

Often such trips are referred to by women as "romance tourism."

Women usually give clothes, meals, cash and gifts to their male prostitutes. In some destinations, there are "going rates" for male companionship, ranging from $50 to $200. In few destinations, especially in Southern Europe, Turkey, Bali and the French Caribbean, men do not expect to be compensated.


While men tend to go to Asia for sex tourism, women tend to head to the Caribbean, Southern Europe, and Africa. The patterns have been explored by Michel Houellebecq in Platform and in the non-fiction work Romance on the Road, and are important in that they support the idea that sex tourism by both men and women reflects serious problems in the tourists' home countries, including a dating war, or profound conflict between the sexes.

Thailand, the Dominican Republic and Cuba are exceptional in that both male and female sex tourists find these places all-purpose sexual emporia.

The primary destinations for female sex tourism are Southern Europe (mainly Italy, Greece, Turkey, Croatia and Spain), the Caribbean (led by Jamaica, Barbados and the Dominican Republic), Ghana and Kenya in Africa, Bali in Indonesia and Phuketin Thailand. Lesser destinations include Nepal, Morocco, Fiji, Ecuador and Costa Rica.

Lesbian sex tourism is nascent but evident in Lesbos (Mytilini) in Greece; Bangkok and Pattaya in Thailand, and on Bali in Indonesia.

Terms used for female sex tourists

Tourist women are called Shirley Valentines (if British), longtails (in Bermuda), yellow cabs (Japan) and, in Jamaica, milk bottles if newly arrived or Stellas if black. Female sex tourism in Barbados has been dubbed “Canadian secretary syndrome.”

The men who chase tourist women are kamakia (“fishing harpoons,” Greece),galebovi (“seagulls,”Croatia), sharks (Costa Rica), rent-a-dreads, rent-a-rastas, rent-a-gents and the Foreign Service (Caribbean), Kuta Cowboys or pemburu-bule (“whitey hunters,” Bali), Marlboro men (Jordan), bomsas or bumsters (the Gambia), sanky pankies (Dominican Republic), "gringa hunter" in Ecuador and "brichero" in Peru.


Barring some isolated cases of women traveling for sex among North American Indian tribes and within Turkey, female travel sex (involving American and English women) began in Rome in the late 1840s, at the same time as feminism's first wave, which encouraged independence and travel.

Affairs and intrigues, particularly between American heiresses and down-on their luck European aristocrats, continued steadily until World War I and inspired Henry James's Daisy Miller, Joaquin Miller's The One Fair Woman, and much of the early output of E.M. Forster.

Female sex travel declined from the time of the Depression until the 1960s, with the exception of India, Nepal and Thailand, where intrepid women from England, France, Czechoslovakia, the United States and elsewhere continued to attract the attention of maharajas and other Asian royals, despite the uproar of World War II.

Coincident with the explosion of leisure travel in the 1960s and feminism's second wave, sex tourism by women re-ignited, first via French Canadian women traveling to Barbados and Swedish and Northern European women to Spain, Greece, Yugoslavia and the Gambia. Female sex travel became ubiquitous throughout the Caribbean, from the tiniest islands through the big destinations of Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Barbados.

In the 1990s, women from Japan and Taiwan began to appear on the beaches of Bali and Phuket in Thailand.

Today, many other destinations are popular, including Morocco, Nepal, Thailand, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico -- everywhere with beaches (or in Nepal's case, mountains) and a surplus of underemployed men.


Female sex tourism's first and second waves coincided not only with feminism but with Victorian-era man shortages that began in England and later cropped in continental Europe and the United States.

Other societal reasons for women seeking intimate companionship abroad include the dating war, as typified by extreme competition between the sexes in schools, the workplace, while dating, in marriages, and even in contentious divorces. The dating war appears to especially drive sex tourism by Australian and Japanese women, and to a lesser extent, German and Scandinavian female tourists.

Another factor in women engaging in holiday romance is identity loss. Many women behave while traveling in a way at odds to how they behave at home, where fear of the "slut" label curbs the kind of hedonistic behavior seen on holiday. Traveling and expatriate women often try on a new, more experimental identity when away from family and friends.

Additional reasons include:

  • sexual connoisseurship -- an interest in experiencing a variety of men
  • a search for healing after a divorce or breakup (see Michelle Thomas, in Major academic publications, below)
  • prolonged involuntary celibacy
  • the commodification of sex, whereby affection is now something that can be purchased by women, as well as men, as well as the globalization of sex and affection markets
  • interest in fulfilling sexual fantasies


Non-fiction books include Anne Cumming's The Love Habit and The Love Quest, Fiona Pitt-Kethley's The Pan Principle and Journeys to the Underworld, Cleo Odzer's Patpong Sisters and Lucretia Stewart's The Weather Prophet.

Female sex tourists have been notoriously difficult to find and interview on the record (see de Albuquerque, 1998, in "Major academic publications" subheading, below). Thus some observers have turned to film and fiction to examine the motivations of women who travel for sex, love and affection. Movies include Heading South (Vers le Sud), with Charlotte Rampling which depicts three Western tourists in Haiti in the 1970s, taking their pleasure with local men. Earlier film depictions include How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Shirley Valentine. Stella led to a quantifiable increase in trips by women to Jamaica, according to Michele Faul's Associated Press article, 12/6/1998, “ ‘Stella’ the Movie Attracting Single Women to Jamaica.”

Important works of fiction include, in addition to Michel Houellebecq's Platform, Erica Jong's Fear of Flying.

See also

Major academic publications

  • Bloor, Michael, et al. “Differences in Sexual Risk Behaviour between Young Men and Women Travelling Abroad from the UK.” [Contains only random survey of young sex travelers.] The Lancet 352 (1998): 1664-68.
  • Cohen, Erik. “Arab Boys and Tourist Girls in a Mixed Jewish-Arab Community.” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 12 (1971): 217-233.
  • de Albuquerque, Klaus. "Sex, Beach Boys and Female Tourists in the Caribbean.” Sexuality & Culture. Ed. Barry M. Dank. Vol. 2. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1998. 87-111. 2.
  • de Albuquerque, Klaus. "In Search of the Big Bamboo: How Caribbean Beach Boys Sell Fun in the Sun.” The Utne Reader, Jan.-Feb. 2000: 82-86.
  • Gorry, April Marie. Leaving Home for Romance: Tourist Women’s Adventures Abroad. Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1999. Ann Arbor: UMI 9958930, 2000
  • Herold, Edward, Rafael Garcia and Tony DeMoya. “Female Tourists and Beach Boys: Romance or Sex Tourism?" Annals of Tourism Research 28.4 (2001): 978-997.
  • Meisch, Lynn A. “Gringas and Otavaleños: Changing Tourist Relations” [a description of sex and romance tourism in Ecuador]. Annals of Tourism Research 22.2 (1995): 441-62.
  • Pruitt, Deborah, and Suzanne Lafont. For Love and Money: Romance Tourism in Jamaica. Annals of Tourism Research 22(2): 422-440.
  • Thomas, Michelle. “Exploring the Contexts and Meanings of Women’s Experiences of Sexual Intercourse on Holiday.”
  • Clift, Stephen, and Simon Carter, ed. Tourism and Sex: Culture, Commerce and Coercion. London: Pinter, 2000. 200-20.
  • Vorakitphokatorn, Sairudee, et al. “AIDS Risk in Tourists: A Study on Japanese Female Tourists in Thailand.” Journal of Population and Social Studies 5.1-2 (1993-94): 55-84.
  • Wagner, Ulla. “Out of Time and Space — Mass Tourism and Charter Trips.” Ethnos 42.1-2 (1977): 39-49. (This article describes sex tourism in the Gambia, West Africa, as does a followup article: Wagner, Ulla, and Bawa Yamba. “Going North and Getting Attached: The Case of the Gambians.” Ethnos 51.3 (1986): 199-222.)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Female sex tourism" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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