Tourist jailed after leaving negative hotel review on TripAdvisor

A TripAdvisor reviewer was arrested after leaving negative comments about a hotel.

The travel firm has since accused Sea View Resort in Thailand of “us(ing) local law to send someone to jail for expressing their opinion”.

But the hotel has defended its actions, claiming the reviews lost them business.

According to Manchester Evening News, US citizen Wesley Barnes had posted a series of harsh reviews following his stay at the Sea View Resort in Koh Chang via TripAdvisor.

The hotel then pursued legal action which resulted in Mr Barnes being detained and charged under the country's strict defamation laws, reports the BBC.

He was facing up to two years in jail, but was later released only after issuing a public apology for his comments.

Following his arrest in September, Mr Barnes is understood to have left Thailand last week.

But the review site has now moved to leave a warning on the hotels page on the site – and urges travellers to the country to be mindful of local laws.

The warning reads: "This hotel or individuals associated with this hotel filed criminal charges against a TripAdvisor user in relation to the traveller writing and posting online reviews. The reviewer spent time in jail as a result.

"The hotel may have been exercising its legal rights under local law, however, it is our role to inform you so you may take this into consideration when researching your travel plans."

In a statement, TripAdvisor said it believed in "the right of every traveller to write about their first-hand traveling experiences – good or bad".

"TripAdvisor strongly opposes any action where a business, like the Sea View Hotel & Spa in Koh Chang, uses local law to send someone to jail for expressing their opinion”, the spokesperson added.

The hotel has since hit back at the review site.

A spokesperson told the New York Times it was "deeply disappointed", adding that "the warning message from TripAdvisor is extremely misleading and lacks complete information".

It is understood the dispute began over a corkage fee in the hotel restaurant. After leaving the hotel, Mr Barnes then left several scathing reviews which led to them suing him for defamation.

The hotel claims they tried to contact him to remove his negative comments to no avail, which resulted in them filing the complaint.

They added that they had lost bookings as a result, and several inquiries into their treatment of employees.

Mr Barnes spent two days in jail before posting bail, and the case was eventually dropped following a settlement that required a full public apology admitting the reviews were "fabricated, recurrent, and malicious".

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