(eTN) – Thomas Kohnstamm, a travel writer for world-renowned Lonely Planet travel guide books, is now at the center of a controversy over the accuracy of his travel books.
To defend the accuracy of his travel guides, he has spoken to the media. “I did not make up sections,” Kohnstamm told AP. “I did not plagiarize.”
Kohnstamm further added his remarks during an interview with Australian newspapers were taken out of context and denied he made up parts of the books he writes about, lifted information from other publications, and accepted gifts in contravention of Lonely Planet’s policies.
Adding that few travel writers are able to visit all the places they write about, Kohnstamm said, “They didn’t pay me enough to go to Colombia.” He, however, admitted accepting travel perks, including discounted hotel rooms and free meals, but “never traded positive editorial coverage for any sort of a freebie.”
“It was expected I would never go to Colombia for purposes of the guide book,” he said. “I wrote the book in San Francisco, with information from a chick I was dating and was working as an intern in the Colombian consulate.
“What percentage of writers go to every place, but I don’t think most writers do.”
Kohnstamm said to adequately cover an entire country it is necessary for the writer to piece together second hand information about things the writer is not able to see himself. “I found out very quickly I was not able to go to all the places I needed to go to. I was not able to make the money stretch out to the end.”
The publisher of Lonely Planet, Piers Pickard, has come out to defend Lonely Planet’s reputation saying the publication stands by the accuracy of its travel guides. “Lonely Planet’s reputation has been built on on the integrity of its books and any inaccuracies would be quickly fixed,” he said. “So far, we have nothing inaccurate, but we are reviewing the books Kohnstamm wrote.”
Pickard further claims Kihnstamm was “hired” to write about the country’s history, together with two other authors who reviewed accommodations and restaurants.
Kohnstamm, who has written more than a dozen books for travel guide publisher Lonely Planet and contributes travel articles, is due to visit Australia soon to promote his travel book “Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?”
Kohnstamm also claims he holds a master’s degree in Latin American studies.