AirAsia has been forced to apologise after its latest ad campaign was accused of promoting sex tourism.
The ads, plastered on Brisbane buses for about a month, read: “Get off in Thailand. Fly direct from Brisbane to Bangkok”.
The airline drew widespread criticism on social media, where it was branded “sexist” and accused of promoting sex tourism in a string of posts.
The ads were also believed to have been displayed at Sydney Airport, according to news.com.au.
“Get off in Thailand” a dog whistle promoting #sextourism brought to you by low budget low ethics airline @AirAsia
Bangkok is a hub of sexual exploitation of women & children & 250,000 western male sex tourists visit Thailand every year. Now its just so convenient! #Shame pic.twitter.com/gykb9a2oPI
AirAsia today issued an apology for the ads, saying they had been removed.
“AirAsia takes community feedback extremely seriously and the airline sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused from recent concerns raised,” a spokeswoman for AirAsia told the BBC.
“AirAsia can confirm the advertising campaign has ended and we instructed our media partners to have the advertising removed as soon as possible today from all locations.”
Among the critics of the campaign was Collective Shout spokeswoman Melinda Liszewski, who said they were a “dog whistle for sex tourists”.
“Brisbane City Council is profiting from these horrific endorsements of sex tourism,” Liszewski said, according to the Courier Mail.
“The information I have is that 250,000 western male sex tourists visit Thailand with the purpose of sex with impoverished women and children,” she said.
“Sex in these circumstances amounts to rape and child sex abuse. I believe this advertisement is for those men.”
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