'Get off in Thailand': AirAsia apologises, pulls 'appalling' ad

AirAsia is being accused of joking about sexual exploitation to sell tickets to Thailand.
AirAsia's Thailand ads have caused offence. Photo credit: Twitter

AirAsia has apologised for an advertising campaign in Australia that appeared to make light of Thailand being a sex tourism destination.

The Malaysian low-cost airline advertised flights to Bangkok on buses in Brisbane with the phrase: "Get off in Thailand".

Among those who saw the ads and wasn't impressed was Melinda Liszewski, a campaigner at Collective Shout, a grassroots campaign movement against the objectification of women.

She told the Sydney Morning Herald the campaign was "appalling", and posted an image of it on Twitter along with the hashtags #sextrade #sexualtourism and #sexualexploitation.

"AirAsia takes community feedback extremely seriously and the airline sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused from recent concerns raised," a spokesperson for the airline told media.

"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."

Thailand's prostitution industry began targeting an international market around the time of the Vietnam War, according to a Lonely Planet report.

A 2003 study by Thailand's Chulalongkorn University calculated the country had 2.8 million sex workers - 1.98 million women, 20,000 men and 800,000 children.