Thailand Promoting Family Tourism to Erase 'Sex Tourism' Tag

Panaji, Aug 20 (IANS): Arguably called the sex tourism capital of the world, Thailand is now deliberately using the family tourism tag to shed the sex destination tag, Tomwit Jarnson, the Royal Thai country consul general in Mumbai has said here.

Jarnson told IANS on the sidelines of an event organised Friday to promote Thailand as a tourism destination that family tourism would eventually edge Thailand away from the slur of 'sex tourism' in the years to come.

"We are trying to project Thailand as a family tourism destination. We are slowly changing the perception of Thailand to the rest of the world," Jarnson said.

He said the Thai food and dance festival in Goa, in association with the Vivanta by Taj hotels and resorts, was just such an attempt to project Thailand as a place steeped in culture, which is quite similar to the culture of the Indian sub-continent and tradition and a rich and diverse culinary palette.

"Destination Thailand is an annual event organised by us which helps us reach out to the people of India through our food, music and dance," Jarnson said.

"We are very happy to have the festival in Goa this year where the people of this city will experience the unique characteristics and rich cultural heritage which our country has to offer," he added.

"We are slowly developing facilities in Thailand which will attract family tourism. We have a lot of Indian families who travel to Thailand," Jarnson said.

He said the Thailand tourism authorities were trying to project Phuket - which along with Bangkok and Pattaya are regarded as the prime sex tourism areas in Thailand - as a family tourism destination.

Although banned by law, prostitution is common place in the tourism districts of Thailand, which see nearly 14 million tourists annually, a large chunk of which are single males or male groups of tourists seeking sex or sex-oriented fun.

A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report has pegged the number of female prostitutes at two lakh.

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