Lonely Planet writer admits he never visited country he wrote about

Most people who have taken guidebooks on the road realize that they’re bound to contain a few inaccuracies. But did you ever consider that the guidebook’s author had never even been to the place he wrote about?

An Australian newspaper reported this weekend that a Lonely Planet guidebook writer named Thomas Kohnstamm has admitted to fabricating large parts of his books. The writer even copped to not having actually visited Colombia, a country he covered for the well-known guidebook publisher.

So how did Kohnstamm write the Colombia guidebook without visiting the country first? “I got the information from a chick I was dating– an intern at the Colombian consulate,” says Kohnstamm. “They didn’t pay me enough to go to Colombia. I wrote the book in San Francisco.”

Kohnstamm also confesses that he plagiarized large parts of the guidebooks, and accepted free meals and lodging on the road, a clear violation of LP policy.

The author covered a number of countries for Lonely Planet, including Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, the Caribbean, and Colombia. Well, maybe not Colombia. The big-wigs over at Lonely Planet say they’re scrutinizing everything Kohnstamm has written for them, but have not yet found any mistakes.

No mistakes? Hmm, that does sound fishy.

(Thanks, Neil!)


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