Culture, history and sexual attraction: relationships between tourists and locals in Cuzco/Peru

Bauer, Irmgard (2007) Culture, history and sexual attraction: relationships between tourists and locals in Cuzco/Peru. In: Posters from the 10th Conference of the International Society of Travel Medicine. p. 1. From: 10th Conference of the International Society of Travel Medicine, 20-27 May 2007, Vancouver, Canada.

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Objectives: Casual sexual encounters (in contrast to sex tourism) have been increasingly discussed in the literature, either with a purely medical focus, or within a social, sociological or behavioural context. A number of tourism destinations around the world are well-known for an increased availability of sexual opportunities, particularly with locals. One is the city of Cusco in Peru. The objectives of this study were to explore tourists' and locals' knowledge, attitudes, reasoning and circumstances, for engaging in casual sexual relationships between them, including their approach to practising safe sex.

Methods: In this qualitative study, ten local residents who were in some way connected to the tourism industry, and 13 tourists (short and long-term) were in-depth interviewed. The participants’ (15 women, 8 men) age ranged from 19 to 50+. Convenience and snow-ball sampling were employed, and Thematic Analysis identified relevant themes and topics. In addition, participant and non-participant observations, and informal discussions provided supporting evidence for the study context.

Results: For tourists, the relationships with locals ranged from one-night-stands as part of the travel experience and having fun, to commitment for the term of the often longer stay, to marriage. Similarly, from the locals' point of view, these encounters ranged from sexual adventures to increase self-esteem and high standing in their circle of friends, to serious long-term commitments. In some cases, both parties agreed with their perception of type and intensity of their relationship, in others there were major discrepancies in expectations. In both cases, and for both genders, the difference in the physical appearance played a main, if not the first and only, part in the perceived attraction that had triggered the encounter. Of concern is still a lack of consistent condom use and, for longer relationships, the decision to discontinue condom use at some arbitrary stage. Another concern is the locals' profound lack of knowledge of Sexually Transmitted Infections, including the correct facts about HIV/AIDS.

Conclusion: Travel health advisors should place more emphasis on sexual health in pre-travel consultations. In particular, the use of condoms cannot be stressed enough, even more so when the perceived familiarity with a partner allows emotions to easily override decisions based on commonsense. Local health professionals should aggressively increase safe sex health promotion, specifically targeting people related to the tourism industry. This will not only benefit those relationships under study but also the local residents' local sexual partners.

Item ID: 22395
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
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Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2012 04:20
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111712 Health Promotion @ 50%
15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1506 Tourism > 150601 Impacts of Tourism @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920401 Behaviour and Health @ 50%
90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900302 Socio-Cultural Issues in Tourism @ 50%
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