Georgia Love and her partner Lee Elliot suffered a backlash during their overseas trip. Now there are questions about who paid the bill.
Former Bachelorette Georgia Love and her partner Lee Elliot suffered a major backlash this week during a trip promoting Saudi Arabia – a country with a dismal human nights record.
The reality star and her husband Lee, who found love on the second season of Network 10 the bachelorette in 2016 sparked controversy by sharing snaps promoting tourism in the harsh Islamic nation.
And now there are new questions about who exactly covered the costs of their trip.
Although she claimed the trip was “not a paid partnership”, Love had plugged Visit Saudi tourism into her posts – which she has since deleted.
According to sun heraldthe couple were not paid directly for the trip, but Saudi Tourism approached Love and “paid the bill for all airfare, accommodation and expenses”.
Love, 33, and Elliot, 40, were part of a group of influencers from around the world to promote the Middle Eastern country.
Among them was Lithuanian travel blogger Sky Naite, whose Instagram posts included Love in the background. One post referred to “behind the scenes (pictures) with Georgia Love”, and was tagged #VisitSaudi.
On Friday, Love and Elliot removed all of their Saudi-related content from their Instagram pages following Thursday’s backlash.
A photo showed the couple arriving at King Khalid International Airport, with Love captioning the post: “Well I can categorically say no one guessed it… we are in Saudi Arabia!!
“Having only opened to tourists in 2019, we cannot say how thrilled we are to be among the first Australians to visit Saudi Arabia.
“For us it is important to see, experience and learn all the cultures around us and to see how much and how quickly our world is changing. We look forward to accompanying you on this incredible experience with us. ”
The former Channel Seven journalist also told her 245,000 subscribers that she and Elliot “in no way condone past behavior or human rights abuses that have occurred in this country”.
“We are also not paid to be here. We are here for ourselves to experience and see a different country and culture because that is what travel is all about to us.
“We want to see and experience as much of the world as possible – this includes all cultures and religions, whether we follow them, agree with them or not.”
The Saudi government has come under heavy criticism for its human rights abuses, including its treatment of women and its LGBT community, and for its crackdown on political opposition.
Entertainment journalist Peter Ford tweeted a link to a news article revealing that Saudi Arabia recently “executed 81 convicts in a single day”.
Ford claimed, “This is the country Georgia Love has agreed to visit for free. Of the 81, you can be sure there is a disproportionate number of women, gays and possibly journalists. Did you really need a free trip this far in Georgia? »
She was also pushed back in her comments section.
“Sorry Georgia, but supporting/promoting Saudi Arabia is incredibly wrong,” one follower wrote.
“They executed 82 people a few days ago. Not to mention the lack of rights for women and the LGBTI+ community. As a journalist, it might have been a good idea to research a country before promoting it. Their human rights are appalling. Disappointing. It seems that a free vacation is more important than morality.
Another follower wrote, “Why not use your influence/platform to promote a place that doesn’t have an abysmal record of human rights violations.”
In response to one person’s suggestion that it was a paid partnership, Love replied that it was not.
Some have commented that the couple should be able to enjoy their vacation without negativity.
Elliott responded to the criticism in his post.
“I really hear and understand what you’re saying and where you’re coming from,” he said.
“We thought long and hard about coming and decided to come as the world changes for the better and Saudi Arabia with it.
“We strongly believe that Saudi Arabia is opening up to the rest of the world and tourists are here, that it needs to be more responsible and hope that this will be a change for the better. Believe me, we have looked into it before you come and we believe that a lot has changed for the better lately and hope it will continue to do so.
Love’s gaffe comes just weeks after she revealed she was quitting her TV career at Channel Seven for a new job away from the cameras in public relations.
She announced the news in a statement The Daily Telegraphtelling the publication that she was excited to begin her next chapter in the media industry.
It comes about five months after Seven took the reality TV star off the air and moved her into a behind-the-scenes role after receiving backlash for a controversial Instagram post.