SAN JOSE: Costa Rican officials announced an online campaign Wednesday warning sex tourists of severe punishment for sleeping with underaged children in their country.
Costa Rica promotes its beaches and nature reserves as a top tourist destination, but for years has struggled to shake off a reputation as a destination for pedophiles.
"Your trip to Costa Rica will end in jail if you pay for sexual relations with a person under the age of 18," warns the ad campaign.
Developers placed links to the "Unforgettable Costa Rica" website on dating sites and sex forums "to make it known that sexual relations with minors in Costa Rica constitutes a serious crime," said Milena Grillo, head of the not-for-profit Paniamor Foundation.
The Foundation, which focuses on childhood welfare, presented the campaign at a press conference along with the Costa Rican Tourism Institute.
"We worked page by page and commentary by commentary, placing the link," Grillo said.
At the "Unforgettable Costa Rica" site users find explicit warnings and see pictures of prison cells instead of lists of hotel.
Organizers said the website also identifies the location of the web visitors, allowing them to contact authorities in their countries.
"Child sexual exploitation is an unacceptable practice ... that is a crime which is punishable by a long prison sentence," said Foundation vice president Ana Helena Chacon.