Former Bachelorette and TV journalist Georgia Love has come under fire after promoting Saudi Arabia as an “incredible” travel destination.
Georgia and her husband Lee Elliot, who found love on Network Ten’s The Bachelorette in 2016, sparked controversy after sharing photos to Instagram of themselves promoting tourism in the hard-line Islamic nation.
“After only opening to tourists in 2019, we can’t state how excited we are to be among the first Aussies to tour Saudi,” Love wrote on Instagram on Thursday.
“To us, it is important to see, experience and learn about all cultures around us and to see how much and how fast our world is changing. We can’t wait to bring you along on this incredible experience with us.”
Lee also shared a series of photos to his Instagram story thats showed the pair trying Arabic coffee and snacks in the town of Diriyah, posing in front of buildings and enjoying a meal in the Riyadh Front shopping area.
After adding the hashtag “Visit Saudi” to their Instagram posts, the couple have been subject to heavy criticism, with commenters calling the trip “immoral”.
The autocratic regime of Saudi Arabia has long copped heavy criticism for their human rights abuses, including its treatment of women and its LGBT community, and for repressing political opposition.
Just this week, the country’s regime executed 81 people in a single day, as pointed out on Twitter by journalist Peter Ford.
Ford added, “This is the country Georgia Love accepted a free trip to visit. Of the 81 you can be sure there is a disproportionate number of women, gays & possibly journalists. Did you really need a freebie trip that badly Georgia?”
Fans of the couple also turned on their travel destination choice, with one person saying, “Why not use your influence/platform to promote somewhere that doesn’t have an atrocious record of human rights violations.”
In response to the backlash, Lee posted a series of Instagram stories saying they “truly hear and understand what you’re saying and where you’re coming from.”
He said, “We thought long and hard about coming and we decided to come as the world is changing for the better and Saudi along with it.”
“We strongly believe by Saudi opening up to the rest of the world and by tourists being here it has to be more accountable and hope this is a change for the better.”
“Trust me we looked into it before coming and believe many things have changed for the better in more recent times and hope they continue to do so.”
Image credits: Instagram
This article first appeared on OverSixty.