Tourist Faces Two Years In Jail After Leaving Negative Tripadvisor Reviews For Thai Resort
Visitor accused of causing ‘damage to the reputation of the hotel’
A tourist in Thailand faces up to two years’ imprisonment after posting negative reviews of a hotel on Tripadvisor and other sites.
Wesley Barnes, an American who works in Thailand, allegedly wrote a number of damning reviews of Sea View Resort on the island of Koh Chang.
The hotel has responded with legal action, accusing Barnes of causing “damage to the reputation of the hotel”.
“The Sea View Resort owner filed a complaint that the defendant had posted unfair reviews on his hotel on the Tripadvisor website,” Colonel Thanapon Taemsara of Koh Chang police told AFP.
In one review, Barnes wrote that staff were “unfriendly” and acted “like they don't want anyone here”.
In another, since taken down by Tripadvisor for violating its guidelines, he accused the resort of “modern day slavery”.
Defamation laws in Thailand are extremely strict, with sentences of up to two years jail-time and fines of up to 200,000 baht (£4,925) for those who are convicted of “defamation by publication”.
“We chose to file a complaint to serve as a deterrent, as we understood he may continue to write negative reviews week after week for the foreseeable future,” said the resort in a statement, adding that Barnes’ comments included “xenophobic connotations, accusations of slavery and even comments that could mislead readers to associate our property with the Coronavirus.”
They also claimed to have contacted Barnes prior to taking legal action: “Despite out multiple efforts to contact him to resolve this in an amicable way for well over a month, he chose to ignore use completely. He only replied to emails, messages on reviews sites, etc. once he had been notified of our complaint by authorities.”
Barnes was arrested and briefly detained in Koh Chang, but has now been released on bail.