Towards a Deeper Understanding of the Meaning of Male Beach Worker-Female Tourist Relationships on the Kenyan Coast


  • Njeri Chege Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz



Beach Boys, Beach Tourism, Family Friends, Female Sex Tourism, Male Beach Worker-Female Tourist Relationships, Romance Tourism.


Knowledge and research on sexual-economic relationships between local men and Western female tourists in different touristic locations around the world has grown, as has public interest and awareness of the phenomenon. However, the direct perspectives of the men whose lives constitute the focus of such studies remain scarce. This has resulted in the phenomenon being understood mainly and inadequately through the concepts of 'romance tourism' and 'female sex tourism'. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Kenya's South Coast region, this article foregrounds the voices of male beach workers and the meanings they assign to these relationships, against a backdrop of the historical, social, economic and political dynamics within which these relationships are pursued. The men attest to socio-economic hardships and marginalization, against which they seek to establish long-term intimate relationships with foreign female tourists, as well as non-sexual economically motivated friendships with foreign tourists, termed family friends. The narratives and analyses show that the pursuit of these relationships as livelihood strategies also flows from the men's struggles to fulfil traditional and contemporary ethno-societal gender expectations, through which men are generally construed as the expected breadwinners and providers. 


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