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18th Jul 2016

Thailand’s first female tourism minister goes to war with the country’s sex trade

She wants to make the island more female-friendly


Thailand’s first ever female tourism minister, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, has called for a crackdown of the island’s notorious sex industry.

Despite prostitution being illegal in Thailand, the idyllic country has become synonymous with the sex trade.


image via @juliaboccagno on twitter

Wattanavrangkul’s move follows a bid to change the image of country into a more female-friendly destination. She has since given the go-ahead to police raids on well-known brothels in an attempt to curb human trafficking and underage sex workers in the country.

Commenting on the crackdown, the minister has said: Tourists don’t come to Thailand for such a thing. They come here for our beautiful culture. We want Thailand to be about quality tourism. We want the sex industry gone”

According to a 2014 UNAIDS report, there are approximately 123,530 sex workers in Thailand. Pattaya, a sprawling city on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, has been targeted as the pilot for the project, as this popular tourist destination is known to house over 1,000 massage parluors fronting as illegal brothels.

prost- thai

image via @studiosociety on twitter

However, critics of the new move say the sex trade brings in much-needed revenue to the country, and that a ban of brothels will inevitably dent the Thai economy.

Speaking to Reuters, Surang Janyam, director of Service Workers in Group (SWING) has said that: “Wiping out the industry is guaranteed to make Thailand lose visitors and income”

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has even dedicated the month of August to female tourists in Thailand in a bid to make the country more enticing to female visitors.

The campaign will offer domestic and foreign travellers promotional rates and special activities with female-only immigration lanes and parking zones. The campaign is being held in conjunction with Thailand’s Queen Sirikit’s 84th birthday.