LONELY Planet has re-opened its popular travel forum two weeks after it was suddenly shut down due to fears it included paedophilia-related posts.
The Thorn Tree - one of the internet's oldest travel forums - is back but excludes South-East Asia as an option for forum users to chat about.
At the time of the shutdown, a source said executives at the BBC, which owns the company and is still dealing with the fallout of the Jimmy Savile scandal, went into ''panic attack mode'' after a disgruntled user alerted them to inappropriate language and posts that discussed topics related to paedophilia.
The company acknowledged on its website that the decision to close the forum over the holiday session ''wasn't the best time of year to do so and we're sorry for any inconvenience''.
It stated the forum was in a limited state and would gradually return to full service.
As part of the re-opening, the company has released new guidelines and alert buttons for users to report abuses of the new rules, which state, among others, that ''plotting illegal activities will be deleted and the user will be banned''.
The site did not officially reveal the reason for closing the forum without warning except that some posts did not conform with the site's ''standards''. But a source with links to Lonely Planet management said the decision to shut the forum was ''all about Jimmy Savile''.
Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler, who sold the company in 2007 but still contributes, said the BBC should have better explained the shutdown.
With ASHER MOSES