News

2017.02.13 10:09

Head of Lithuanian tourism resigns after facing criticism in the fake photos scandal

Algirdas Acus2017.02.13 10:09

The head of Lithuanian State Tourism department stepped down on Friday, after a state funded ad campaign used fake photos from other countries to promote Lithuania.

The state funded ad campaign runs under the slogan ‘Real is Beautiful’, but part of used photos were far from real. State Tourism department admitted that some of the pictures used on social media were taken in fellow EU states, not in Lithuania.
Lithuanian Facebook users flooded their feeds with hundreds of international pictures, jokingly describing them as Lithuanian sites and captioning them with the hashtag #realisbeautiful.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis joined the trend, posting the EU Commission's Berlaymont building in central Brussels and jokingly claiming that the government will start working in this new building.
However, he was more serious with the media when he called the scandal ‘not normal’. ‘We pay large sums of money for that kind of projects and I think that in essence it discredits the whole idea,’ said Skvernelis.

Mindaugas Sinkevičius, Minister of Economy, on Friday, summoned the head of tourism Jurgita Kazlauskienė, who handed in her resignation.
 

‘I am not ashamed’, she said to the media.
 

Minister Sinkevičius promised a general internal audit at the Tourism Department and an investigation into this specific campaign.
 

Lithuania launched the brand ‘Lithuania. Real is beautiful’ in October last year, to highlight the country’s natural wonders and culture.

Various print screen shots from social media illustrating fake tourist photos, taken from other websites.
 

Sound bite (Lithuanian)

JURGITA KAZLAUSKIENĖ, the resigned Chairwoman of Tourism Department under Ministry of Economy:

(Reporter asks if she is not ashamed.) No, I am not ashamed. (Reporter asks to comment on the situation) We discussed the situation with Minister of Economy ,which probably emerged yesterday, and I made a decision to resign.
Various shots of the resigned Chairwoman of tourism meeting Minister of Economy
 

Sound bite (Lithuanian)

MINDAUGAS SINKEVIČIUS, Minister of Economy:

Several things were agreed. Probably, here the resignation will be highlighted, but I would highlight that there will be an investigation into this specific public procurement and a general internal audit at the department.
 Shots of Prime Minister

Sound bite (Lithuanian)

SAULIUS SKVERNELIS, Prime Minister:

 I think the situation that we have is not normal when we try to promote our country and its advantages using images that are not from Lithuania. It’s very strange. We pay large sums of money for that kind of projects and I think that in essence it discredits the whole idea.
 

Facebook post of PM joking that government will start working in new premises that in fact is the building of the European Commission.