US travel ‘Not a 10’ tweet prompts scorn

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The State Department wants to warn travellers not to fall for scams on spring trips

The US State Department has apologised for tweeting that Americans who are not considered attractive at home should not fall victim to scams overseas.

The travel department of the government agency was attempting to warn Americans not to get tricked into being robbed while travelling abroad.

@TravelGov, the Twitter account, apologised for its initial tweet after being subject to backlash and ridicule.

The tweet was part of a campaign called #springbreakingbadly.

“Not a ’10’ in the US? Then not a ten overseas. Beware of being lured into buying expensive drinks or worse-being robbed. #springbreakingbadly,” a now-deleted tweet said.

Other tweets with the #springbreakingbadly hashtag warned Americans not to accept free trips abroad or to take packages overseas and to beware of having drinks spiked with drugs and robbery while abroad.

Twitter users did not hesitate to poke fun at the campaign.

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The department apologised for its tweet about not being a “10”, but wanted to make sure its 511,000 followers were aware of its programmes for American travellers abroad, such as travel alerts and warnings.

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It said its “highest priority is to protect the lives and interests of US citizens overseas”.

Gabe Saglie, the senior editor of Travelzoo, told the BBC that the negative publicity is a shame, because the message is relevant as people prepare to go on “spring break” trips.

It may seem commonplace, he said, but it is worth reminding people to be careful and extra aware of their surroundings.

“When you try to be extra effective on social media and nab people’s attention, you can sometimes cross the line,” he said.

“It’s a reminder for travel companies and government agencies… you have to be aware of your audience before you send a message.”

The message especially lost steam because beauty is interpreted differently in various parts of the world, he said. But it’s not all bad.

“If nothing else, it probably did inform people that the State Department at the end of the day is a resource,” said Mr Saglie.

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