Myanmar should take preventive measures against the sexual exploitation of children by tourists, as there has been a rising trend of child sex tourism in neighbouring countries, according to the children’s protection officer for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“These days, child sex tourism has become popular in developing countries. Look at Myanmar’s neighbouring country, Cambodia. They have seen a 65 percent increase in tourist arrivals in just one year, and there has been a corresponding rise in the exploitation of children to attract pedophile tourists. The trend may spread to neighbouring Myanmar. Therefore, concerned organizations should take preventive measures,” said Khin Thiri Win.

Tourism is one of major industries from which Myanmar earns foreign money. The country has seen an increasing influx of cultural and business tourists since Myanmar re-opened up to the international community following several decades of isolation under the military dictatorship.
“Monasteries and orphanages in Myanmar attract the attention of Western tourists as they are rich in culture. However, some take interest in children at these places because they want to exploit the children,” said Tun Myat from the Myanmar Tourist Guide Association.

“Child sex and human trafficking are still under control in Myanmar. No one dares to explicitly engage in those illicit activities. Tourist guides usually join package tours and company tours. They never help tourists to engage in child sex and human trafficking. Most of them who commit such illegal acts come from border regions.”

Myanmar signed for exemption of border visa fees with Thailand in August last year, and with China in December.