Tourism for the purpose of casual homosexual or heterosexual encounters, particularly in the third world, involves hundreds of thousands of people and billions of dollars. Children are often the victims, forced into prostitution to satisfy the demand of paedophilic tourists.
Sex tourism involving local customers is often neglected in the press in favour of transnational sex tourism; numerically, however, there may well be more local people than foreigners whose vacation plans include the services of local prostitutes.
There are travel agents who publicly advertise their specialization in sex tours, offering special package deals which include "introductions" to "virgin girls".
Bangkok, with one third of Thailand's one million prostitutes, many of them minors, is notorious as a venue for sexual tourism. According to the International Federation Terre des Hommes, each year tens of thousands of sex tourists from Germany alone visit Thailand. About 10% of them engage in sex with minors.
Thailand government tourist officials maintain that fewer than 10% of tourists come to Thailand primarily for sex. They have played down publicity about AIDS so as to protect the tourist industry, the source of 20% of all Thai export earnings, but airlines flying into Bangkok have been known to include condoms in toiletry kits supplied to passengers.
It is widely recognized within the travel industry that "sex" stands alongside "sun" and "sea" as the principal factors by which tourism can be marketed.