TIJUANA (Border Report) — The former director of Tijuana’s Tourism and Conventions Committee is urging the city to “remove the taboo” of prostitution and brothels and promote them as tourist attractions.

Pepe Avelar made those comments after being asked about night club and bar closures due to COVID-19.

“We should let them operate and exploit their appeal as much as possible, allowing for more regulation,” he said. “We should approve a promotional campaign for an activity that is historically synonymous with the city of Tijuana.”

Avelar went on to say the city needs to do this as soon as possible.

“Let’s talk openly about this. I’m a firm believer that we need these open 24/7 in areas dedicated to bars and houses of prostitution because, in the end, these are also tourism products,” he said.

As an example, Avelar used the city of Las Vegas, Nev., where tourism is promoted as “an adventure, as romantic and as a sexual destination.”

Mexican prostitutes wait for clients on a street of Tijuana city, Baja California state, 06 August 2007. Prostitution is one of the activities that attract more people who live in the US side of the border. The legal flow of vehicles and people towards the United States is constant and multitudinous. Some Tijuanenses go daily to San Ysidro or San Diego, both in the US, just to do the shopping. (LUIS ACOSTA/AFP via Getty Images)

“This is something that happens in Tijuana and Mexico in general and we’re not taking advantage of it,” Avelar said. “We need to start looking at the economic benefits and the legal and moral aspects … stop pretending it’s only a game.”

It’s believed most of the prostitutes in Tijuana are victims of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking. Avelar says this might be a way for lawmakers to solve the problem.

“We should not try to oversee and over regulate, that’s the biggest problem we’ve always had, that’s where we have battle,” Avelar said.

Avelar brought up the idea of having a directory of prostitutes in a database and that promotional campaigns should be launched as a way to provide more security for the people offering sex as well as for those looking for this type of activity.

Border Report reached out to the Tijuana office of Baja California’s Secretary of Tourism seeking comment about Avelar’s remarks and whether it’d be open to promoting brothels and the sex trade in Tijuana, but attempts to speak with officials were unsuccessful.

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