Georgia Love and Lee Elliot delete photos of 'disappointing' Saudi Arabia trip after backlash

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Georgia Love and Lee Elliot have deleted social media posts from their first overseas trip since before the pandemic, after receiving heavy backlash online.

The Bachelorette stars had been posting happy snaps from a holiday in Saudi Arabia, however, the destination wasn't received well by many of their followers, who called the move "disappointing" and "sad".

Georgia Love and Lee Elliot in Saudi Arabia
Georgia Love and Lee Elliot have shared their excitement for a trip to Saudi Arabia online. Photo: Instagram

Lee shared a lengthy response to his Instagram stories defending the trip, writing: "We truly hear and understand what some of you are saying and where you're coming from on our decision to come to Saudi Arabia, but the world is changing for the better and Saudi along with it.

"Saudi has changed a lot in recent years (we were not allowed here two years ago. Women could not drive nor work - none of these things are the case now).

"We strongly believe by Saudi opening up to the rest of the world and by tourists being here it has to be more accountable."

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He also stressed they were not being paid for the trip, and said it had been organised "solely by women who are here on the ground leading the tour with us, locals included".

"This is a big reason we felt comfortable to come," he added. "We are here for ourselves to experience and see a different country and culture as that for us is what travel is all about.

"We want to see and experience as much of the world as we can - this includes all cultures and religions, whether we follow them, agree with them or not."

Georgia has not commented on the backlash herself, but shared Lee's post to her own profile.

lee elliot instagram post
Lee Elliot shared a lengthy response to his Instagram stories defending the trip. Photo: Instagram

Bachelorette stars touch down in Saudi Arabia

"After only opening to tourists in 2019, we can’t state how excited we are to be among the first Aussies to tour Saudi," Georgia shared in a now-deleted post, after having teased the trip to her followers from the airport.

"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," she concluded, adding the handle @visitsaudi and the hashtag #VisitSaudi, indicating the pair are potentially there as guests of the tourism group.

Over on his own Instagram account, Lee also wrote they "could not be happier" to be travelling again after arriving in Riyadh. Though that post has also since been deleted.

"And what better adventure to kickstart our travels again than the incredibly dynamic tourist destination Saudi Arabia," he added.

lee Elliot and georgia love at airport in saudi
Lee said they could 'not be happier' to be travelling again. Photo: Instagram

Backlash over Saudi trip

However, while many wished the pair 'happy travelling', both their posts were flooded with comments calling out their choice of destination to promote.

"Hardly a place I'd promote. Very disappointing. Not to mention their treatment of women...," one person commented.

"We’re really promoting Saudi now? With their appalling human rights record??" another agreed.

"As a woman and a journalist did you not consider the treatment of both groups in Saudi? As a journo I imagine you stand for freedom of the press, freedom of speech - both of which are non existent in SA," another wrote on Georgia's post.

While a fourth person wrote: "This is both sad & disappointing. As many have noted above, anyone with an interest or knowledge of world news and affairs would be well educated on the governing & social, often abhorrent and usually discriminating, issues in Saudi."

Others though were more open to hearing about the trip.

"As gorgeous as Saudi Arabia looks, their treatment and perception of women as a whole is still quite dire, although I know there has been some improvements. I will be interested to hear what your experience is like as a female visiting the country," one person said,

"Wow! Can’t wait to see the adventures," was another comment, while one person shared: "Ahhh I lived in Saudi in 2003 - it’s fascinating. Enjoy."

saudi arabia
They've been including the handle @visitsaudi and the hashtag #VisitSaudi, indicating they are potentially there as guests of the tourism group. Photo: Instagram

Even Entertainment journalist Peter Ford tweeted a link to a news article revealing Saudi Arabia recently 'executed 81 convicts in a single day'.

He called out fellow journalist Georgia, writing" 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?"

Once one of the most challenging countries in the world to visit, Saudi Arabia changed course in September 2019, opening applications for online tourist visas to citizens of 49 countries and easing its strict dress code for foreign women.

The reforms also meant unmarried foreign couples would be allowed to rent hotel rooms together and women can now stay in hotel rooms alone. Couples previously had to prove they were married before getting a hotel room.

Despite this, it is the second biggest tourist destination in the Middle East with over 16 million visiting in 2017. Although most tourism in Saudi Arabia still largely involves religious pilgrimages, there is growth in the leisure tourism sector.

Georgia Love leaves TV career following racism scandal

The couple's trip comes shortly after Georgia Love revealed that she was leaving her TV career with Seven behind for a job in Public Relations, five months after being taken off-air due to her racism scandal.

The former Bachelorette shared the news with the Daily Telegraph in February, saying she was excited for a new chapter within the media industry.

"I’m looking forward to putting the skills, knowledge and experience learnt from 11 years working in newsrooms into something new, while still remaining within the media industry," Georgia said of her new role with storytelling agency, Enthral.

Georgie Love as channel 7 journalist
Georgie Love recently announced she was leaving her role with Channel 7. Photo: Instagram

In September last year, the reality star was pulled from her on-air duties as a TV journalist when she sparked backlash after sharing footage of a cat in the window of an Asian restaurant and wrote, "Shop attendant or lunch?!"

The video was swiftly deleted and Georgia issued an apology for causing "offence", saying, "I meant absolutely no insinuation about the type of animal nor the type of restaurant, but I see that my post did not come across like that and was offensive."

She continued, "I sincerely apologise for the oversight and offence I have caused. Thank you to those who called me out. This is what we need to make sure we are all accountable and do better.

"Again, I apologise from the bottom of my heart for the offence caused."

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