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No Sex Tourism: Says Thailand's first Female Tourism min

Thailand has promised to eradicate its notorious sex tourism industry as it attempts to reinvent itself as a female-friendly travel destination. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, the country’s first female tourism minister, made the pledge following a series of police raids on Thai brothels last month, amid concerns over human trafficking and underage sex workers. “We want Thailand to be about quality tourism. We want the sex industry gone,” Ms Kobkarn told Reuters. “Tourists don’t come to Thailand for such a thing. They come here for our beautiful culture.” Prostitution has been illegal in the south-east Asian country since 1960, but the industry employs more than 120,000 sex workers, with authorities frequently accused of turning a blind eye. Ms Kobkarn began her drive to clean up Thai tourism’s image soon after arriving in office in 2014, ¨ as a pilot project for the country at large. Pattaya has more than 1,000 bars and massage parlours, many of which are fronts for illegal brothels. But last month’s police raids, in which police closed down a high-profile Bangkok massage parlour and arrested more than 100 sex workers employed there – 15 of whom were underage – could mark a turning point for the industry.

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