Budget Malaysian carrier AirAsia has landed itself in hot after its latest ad campaign was accused of promoting sex tourism.
The ad, which contained the tagline “Get off in Thailand”, had be plastered across Brisbane, Australia, to promote the airline’s direct flights to Bangkok.
It didn’t take long before the ad copped flak on social media, where it was branded “sexist”.
One commenter wrote: “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.”
Another added: “That’s a megaphone, not a dog whistle.”
— Melinda (@MelLiszewski) March 22, 2019
AirAsia has since issued an apology and said the campaign promoting its direct flights has ended and the advertisements have been removed.
An AirAsia spokesperson, told the BBC: “AirAsia takes community feedback extremely seriously and the airline sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused from recent concerns raised.”
This isn’t the first time a tourism advertisement has gone viral for all the wrong reasons. Last week, Tourism Australia was forced to quickly fix one of its advertisements for its UnDiscover Australia campaign, after an embarrassing blunder was spotted in the photo.
The original image shows a young couple sitting on a hill in Kings Park, Perth, with the caption “catch the sunset here”. The problem is, the couple are looking east, even though the sun sets in the west — meaning tourists who clamber to the top of the hill hoping to catch a glimpse of the setting sun would be in for a disappointing view.
Reporters at The West Australian were the first to spot the blunder and pointed it out to Tourism Australia, which said the ad would be fixed before it was released on social media. An edited version has now been released.