“Rule of 3″ suffering in Thailand’s red light districts

The bar girls in Patpong, a destination for so-called “sex travelers,” have a basic rule: three inches (duh), three minutes (duh), 3,000 baht (that’s around $87).This year, they can add another “3” to it, one third. That’s roughly how far tourism revenues are expected to fall in Thailand this year. A projected 35 percent drop means less business and less income in what is largely recognized as one of the most disreputable parts of the world.

Recessions are felt at every level. One local bar girl took a pay cut from $232 a month to $174. She had little choice, as customers are scarce. Regular customers are trimming back on their carnal habits, and foreign guests have fallen by around 20 percent.

And, it’s not just Thailand.

The Czech Republic, which has a fairly accepting attitude toward prostitution – 14 percent of check men have admitted to this sort of frolic – has seen up to half of the brothels outside Prague close in the past year. There have been layoffs, as well … even in Nevada. The famous Mustang Ranch in Reno has had to lay of 30 percent (another “3”!) of its workforce, thanks to high-rollers who aren’t spending as liberally.

As with more traditional destinations, travel deals are emerging, such as $111 for as much as you can consume in an hour at one location in Hanover, Germany. A club in Berlin is a bit more generous, with $98 for six hours – in addition to access to the sauna, solarium and a (food) buffet.

I’ll pass on the “stimulus package” joke. Too easy.