Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lonely Planet writer fabricates guidebook

Lonely Planet is defending itself against claims made by a former writer that large portions of text had been fabricated.

In a new book, Thomas Kohnstamm reveals that he lifted information from travel guides and accepted gifts (against Lonely Planet policy) in exchange for positive reviews of tourist attractions. Kohnstamm worked on dozens of guides including Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, Chile and the Caribbean.

In the case of Columbia, Kohnstamm claims he never even visited the country. Instead, he wrote everything from the comfort of his apartment in San Francisco and received all his information from a woman he was dating - an intern at the Columbian Consulate. Kohnstamm argues that the Lonely Planet never gave him enough money to visit the country. Eventually, the starving writer turned to selling drugs in order to subsidize his poor pay.

The Lonely Planet claims otherwise; "Kohnstamm was commissioned to write the introduction to the Columbia book - not to review it.

"When he was commissioned it was understood that he wouldn't be going to the destination. He claimed he wasn't paid enough to travel, but he was only employed as an office based researcher. He was never expected to go out there."

The Lonely Planet is currently reviewing all of Kohnstamm's guides for accuracy.

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