Whether you have traveled to Thailand for business or pleasure, one thing you may come across on your journey is brothels, sex shows and women who push ping pongs up their genitals.
For some this is seen as harmless fun, but it has a far seedier side. Many of the people who participate in the Thai sex industry are underage. Reports that children have been exposed to rape and abuse are rampant and it is for this reason that the government has decided to try and clamp down on the industry.
The government is also fearful that many of the tourists who visit Thailand are in fact going because they want to enjoy the sex shows as opposed to visiting the country to indulge in its culture.
Thailand's tourism minister, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, has pledged to bring an end to the country's sex industry. Kobkarn said she wants Thailand to be about quality tourism.
"We want the sex industry gone," she said. "Tourists don't come to Thailand for such a thing. They come here for our beautiful culture," Wattanavrangkul said in a statement.
Despite prostitution in Thailand being illegal for 70 years, sex shows, brothels and other acts have been able to continue and flourish. The country is home to one of the world's largest sex industries and although it is mostly used by the locals, it does thrive on foreign visitors who come for fun, as well as companionship.
According to a report, Thailand is home to over 123,000 sex workers and employs 250,000 people. The minimum wage for most people in the country is US$8.59, but compared to sex workers, the hourly rate increases to US$34.00, going up to US$85. It is this difference in pay that makes the industry so appealing and lucrative.
Bearing in mind that tourism brings in 10 percent of the country's GDP, there are concerns that the loss of the sex industry could drastically impact the economy.
Men who wish to find companionship with a woman in one of Thailand's many bars are required to pay a bar fee in order to sit and drink with the girl.
Police receive payoffs from bar owners for turning a blind eye to what goes on inside — meaning that if the industry was to be shut down, they would also feel the hit.
However, this is something that the tourist minister simply doesn't buy. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, believes that the country will flourish even more if the sex industry was demolished.