No laughing matter

Travel firm drops tasteless emojis advertising trips to Auschwitz

A LEADING travel company has been forced to change its social media policy after the Jewish Telegraph queried why it was glorifying trips to Auschwitz and Birkenau death camps.

Long established Hays Travel is in the process of removing a variety of different, and tasteless emojis used on Facebook by hundreds of branches to advertise holidays to Poland — including trips to Auschwitz — after we drew it to their attention.

The social media post caused outrage on the Girvan, Scotland branch of Hays Travel’s Facebook page last week, after it featured two laughing faces with star eyes either side of a promotion for “Krakow City break including Auschwitz and Birkenau”.

But the Jewish Telegraph discovered that virtually every branch of the company — of which there are more than 450 — was using the same promotional device.

Emojis used ranged from smiley faces to a five-pointed yellow star, with several branches even using the flame emoji.

Hays Travel Bolton used a variety of emojis to promote the tours, including lighting bolts, flames and yellow five-pointed stars, while the Nottingham branch employed purple love hearts.

The Wythenshawe, Manchester, branch featured a diamond emoji to advertise the tours, as well as the Schindler’s List walking tour.

The Bury, Manchester, branch also included a five-pointed yellow star emoji.

A spokesman for Hays Travel said: “We are very sorry that our Facebook posts have caused offence.

“We use emojis to highlight all special offers and extra good value holidays on Facebook, but we agree they are not appropriate for historic, culturally sensitive destinations. “We have reviewed our social media policy and we will no longer use emojis to promote excursions to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.

“We have informed all our staff of the change to the policy and we are currently amending or removing active and recent posts.

“We have also revised our training and induction processes to ensure that our sales staff across our UK branches, head office and regions are aware and understand how to promote visits to this important destination appropriately.

At the time of going to press last night, of the branches mentioned above, only Girvan had removed its post.

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