Backpackers working as prostitutes
Foreign backpackers visiting Queensland have been earning money as illegal prostitutes and damaging legitimate brothel operators, the legal brothel industry has claimed.
Queensland Adult Business Association Nick Inskip said the illegal sex industry was undermining efforts by the legal brothel industry to make a profit and uphold health and safety standards.
Mr Inskip said many backpackers counted on making extra cash during their visit.
"Especially when you go up to northern Queensland, it's not unusual for them to be working in the illegal escort industry," Mr Inskip said.
"No one asks the backpackers to see their passports.
"If you go to a licensed brothel the first thing they do is ask for your passport and whether you are here legally."
He said illegal escorts often undercut legal brothels in terms of prices, because they had fewer overheads and it was difficult for the tax office to track the workers.
"They can charge less because they are not paying GST, staff costs for managers and receptionists, or have a registered business name," Mr Inskip said.
Mr Inskip said the Queensland Police Service's 20-person prostitution task force was "a very dedicated bunch of people".
But he said the task force was being frustrated by illegal brothel operators using new methods and technology, such as multiple mobile phones, to hide their activities.
"Every time it's allowed to happen it damages the legal brothel industry and what the government is trying to do," Mr Inskip said.
One solution could be allowing legal brothels to operate outcall services, he said.
But the proposal has previously been rejected by the Crime and Misconduct Commission and the Queensland state government.
Queensland currently has 23 legal brothels operating in city and regional areas.
Police figures show the number of prostitution offences reported in Queensland increased from 362 to 600 in 2005-06.