Thailand’s 1st female tourism officer Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul vows to shut down Bangkok brothels and go-go bars. She wants tourists to flock Thailand for its beauty and luxury. However, according to those working in the industry Thailand’s economy was on the brink of recession back in 2014 after political turmoil and has struggled to recover. So getting rid of commercial sex services would hurt the country’s economy.
The country which is deeply conservative and predominantly Buddhist, was the poster child for Asian tourism for its temples and beaches. But currently, it is home to an industry that caters largely to Thai men and tourists that flock massage parlours and go-go bars in Bangkok, and other popular tourist spots.
Since 1960, prostitution has been illegal in Thailand but the law is almost invariably ignored and even the police are accused of overlooking the offense in exchange for money. So in recent weeks, the tourist minister pushes brothel shut down and police raids in Bangkok’s largest establishments that provide sex services. The whole movement is done in an attempt to transform Thailand into a luxury destination to attract rich tourists.
Kobkarn 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.”
Even though she played down sex industry as the reason why tourists visit Thailand and despite having good intentions, experts say that it will be hard to get rid of the industry in the country as it is already firmly established and even untold numbers of policemen and officials are part of the payroll. Do you agree with the experts?