AirAsia yanks 'get off in Thailand' ads, apologizes

AirAsia pulls 'get off in Thailand' ads amid criticism over sex tourism

Bus with controversial advertisement. (Image from Twitter)

Bus with controversial advertisement. (Image from Twitter)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Malaysian budget air carrier AirAsia Group apologized on Tuesday (March 26) after it was accused of promoting sex tourism with its advertisements in Australia using the slogan "Get off in Thailand."

To advertise the airline's route from Brisbane, Australia to Bangkok, Thailand, buses in Brisbane were plastered with the slogan "Get off in Thailand." Although on the surface the slogan could simply mean to disembark in Thailand, many Australians believed that the ad also contained a not-so-subtle sexual innuendo.

Twitter user MelTankardReist accused the carrier of using the ads to promote sex tourism:

Collective Shout, a grassroots campaign movement against the objectification of women, also accused the airline of using the ad to promote sex tourism in Thailand, reported BBC. Collective Shout campaigner Melinda Liszewski took to Twitter to criticize AirAsia as being a "low budget low ethics airline:"

On Monday (March 25), a spokesperson for the airline told the BBC: "AirAsia takes community feedback extremely seriously and the airline sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused from recent concerns raised. 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."

On Tuesday (March 26), the airline issued a statement verifying that the offending advertisements had been completely removed: "AirAsia confirms the campaign has since ended and our media partners have had the last of these advertisements removed," reported Straits Times.

In the statement, AirAsia tried to explain that the wording of the ad was meant to promote Bangkok as a destination. It explained the intended meaning was to "get off" as in to exit a vehicle, such as to "get off the bus... off the aircraft in Bangkok."