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Barbara, like many women who find “romance” in Negril, says she is shunned by men of her own age in the UK, “because they want thinner, younger women and for some reason can get them”.I made contact with her through a social networking site where I had discovered women exchanging views and details about longdistance romances with men in Jamaica.The men are invariably from impoverished families, have little or no education and are sometimes illiterate.Over the past decade, I have been researching the increase in female sex tourism in underdeveloped and poorer countries.Most of the women involved are looking for attention and excitement but end up, often without realising it, being one half of a prostitution deal.Although a small number of African-American women travel to the Caribbean for sex with beach boys, most of the women are white, middle-aged or older and come from Europe and North America.The practice has become less stigmatised and tour operators even add thinly veiled references to sex tourism for women as a marketing strategy. Academic researchers often class women such as Barbara as “romance tourists”, as they usually believe the men they meet on holiday are in love with them.
Chris made me feel gorgeous and special straight away.” Yet this was the beginning of not a holiday romance but a commercial exchange between a relatively rich westerner and an impoverished “beach boy”.
The most popular depiction of romance tourism is the 1989 film Shirley Valentine, in which the central character travels to a Greek island craving love and attention.
Shirley was not a sex tourist; she wanted an emotional attachment.
They are called “bumsters” in Gambia, “Rastitutes” or “beach boys” in the Caribbean and “sanky pankies” in the Dominican Republic.
These are the men providing sex in return for money or goods to women who want a holiday “romance”.