Tourists' perceptions of and reactions to child sex tourism: An exploratory qualitative investigation
Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics
School of Business and Law
Edith Cowan University, School of Business and Law
Purpose: Using a qualitative approach, this cross-disciplinary study integrating modern slavery, tourism and marketing expertise outlines Chinese outbound tourists' perceptions of and reactions to issues related to child sex tourism. Design/methodology/approach: In total, 27 in-depth interviews were conducted, and data were analysed. Manual coding was chosen as an efficient method to process qualitative interview data given the relatively small sample size in this study. Findings: Three main themes emerged from analysis: (1) tourists' negative perceptions of child sex tourism; (2) tourist boycotts against child sex tourism destinations and activities as reactions to this socially deviant and illegal phenomenon and (3) tourist advocacy to enhance public awareness of child sex tourism. These themes suggest that tourists, as key tourism stakeholders, have difficulty accepting that child sex tourism occurs and would like to identify solutions to end illegal activities. Tourist boycotts would positively affect sustainable tourism development by eliminating illegal businesses, including those involving child prostitution, from the tourism industry. The qualitative method is applied here to develop a conceptual framework explaining tourists' perceptions of and reactions to child sex tourism. Practical implications: A conceptual framework of Chinese individuals' perceptions of and reactions to child sex tourism has been devised using a qualitative approach. Although this framework takes child sex tourism as its focus, it can also be applied to better understand tourists' perspectives of other socially deviant or illegal behaviours within the tourism industry. The findings of this study provide valuable implications for various tourism stakeholders. Originality/value: The current study makes significant theoretical and practical contributions to an under-researched topic – child sex tourism. A conceptual framework of Chinese individuals' perceptions of and reactions to child sex tourism has been devised using a qualitative approach. Findings from this study may inspire campaigns to protect children from being drawn into sex tourism. Efforts should also be undertaken to rescue children who have already been victimised by illegal businesses.