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Investigating “the light and dark” of sex in tourism

Wednesday 1 December 2021 1:17pm

Professor Neil Carr image
Department of Tourism Professor Neil Carr.

Professor Neil Carr and Associate Professor Liza Berdychevsky of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are breaking down the barriers of taboo topics of sex in tourism to show the diverse forms these encounters take, as well as the effects that come with them.

“Though understandable, sex is a part of the human experience and it is important for people to put their judgements to the side and get involved in helping fill this knowledge gap, spreading awareness and support to where it is needed.”

Their latest edited book “Sex in Tourism: Exploring the Light and Dark” highlights and analyses sexual encounters, romance and sexual exploitation in tourism.

Key findings included recognising both the consensual and non-consensual sexual experiences occur at summer camps, that female sex workers in Kenya oftentimes value sex work over education, how hotel housekeeping staff are vulnerable to sexual abuse from guests and the continued fight against child-sex tourism and the crucial role that local communities must play in this.

He says that sex in tourism has arguably been an understudied area of research relative to the central role that it often plays in tourism experiences.

“There is a major gap in this area,” Carr says.

“We need to be serious about discussing challenging topics like prostitution and equal rights in order to make the general public aware of what is happening in the world and the potentially shocking impacts of this,” Carr says.

He says the email exchanges between himself and Associate Professor Berdychevsky would often be flagged by IT due to their subject matter, leading to frustration and exchanges with both universities’ IT teams to resolve the communication block.

“Though understandable, sex is a part of the human experience and it is important for people to put their judgements to the side and get involved in helping fill this knowledge gap, spreading awareness and support to where it is needed,” Carr says.

Professor Carr research encompasses cross-disciplinary topics, with him having produced research on topics such as youth and families, identity formation, risk, gender, animal welfare, zoos, and freedom.

Kōrero by Kelsey Schutte, Communications Adviser (Otago Business School) 

Sex in Tourism: Exploring the Light and Dark

Otago University, Department of Tourism: Professor Neil Carr