AirAsia pulls ads that critics say ‘promote sex tourism’

The airline said the campaign was meant to promote a new route between Australia and Thailand, but the double entendre stoked backlash online. Can the company make amends?

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AirAsia, a low-cost Malaysian airline, has pulled a recent campaign promoting its flights from Brisbane, Australia to Bangkok.

The ads, which were seen on buses and at the airport in Brisbane, read: “Get off in Thailand.” Underneath the message, a sentence in a smaller font reads: “Fly direct from Brisbane to Bangkok.”  The ads drew swift criticism on social media.

Melinda Liszewski, activist and campaigner for grassroots organization Collective Shout tweeted pictures of the ad, accusing the airline of promoting sex tourism to market its new route:

“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

— Melinda (@MelLiszewski) March 22, 2019

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