In a world where economics often focus on the concept that “the customer is always right” it’s heartening to see even large companies re-evaluate policy, and make make changes in the face of facts.
Our work in India has often placed us face to face with the common practices of human-animal interaction written about below, and we don’t promote the “elephant rides” that are often on travelers’ agenda. Change occurs along with a shift in understanding, and our goal has always been to craft travel experiences that are both authentic and educational.
So “Bravo!” and a hearty welcome to any company willing to join us in achieving that goal!
TripAdvisor Halts Ticket Sales to Cruel Wildlife Attractions
TripAdvisor, the popular travel review website, and its ticket sales company, Viator, said Tuesday they no longer will sell tickets to hundreds of tourist attractions that are widely accepted as cruel to wild animals, reversing a policy under which the companies had resisted considering the welfare of animals when promoting trips.
The move to stop selling tickets to elephant rides, swim-with-dolphin experiences, and attractions that allow visitors to pet tigers and other exotic animals comes after a one-and-a-half-year protest campaign by the London-based animal welfare group World Animal Protection and reporting by National Geographic’s Wildlife Watch, which drew attention to TripAdvisor’s continued promotion of such attractions at a time when dozens of other tour and travel companies were moving away from them.
Such attractions have been shown to cause animals psychological and physical trauma that can shorten their lives. They also result in more animals being taken from the wild for tourism.
When National Geographic asked TripAdvisor about its policies earlier this year, a company spokeswoman said it wasn’t TripAdvisor’s place to steer users in any particular direction with regard to animal attractions.
But now the company, which has one of the world’s busiest travel websites, is not only ending sales to many animal attractions, it’s also developing a portal to educate tourists on animal welfare practices and the conservation implications of various wildlife tourist attractions. World Animal Protection, Oxford University’s WildCRU, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and other animal welfare, conservation, and sustainable tourism groups will be involved in its development, the company said.
“TripAdvisor’s new booking policy and education effort is designed as a means to do our part in helping improve the health and safety standards of animals, especially in markets with limited regulatory protections,” Stephen Kaufer, TripAdvisor’s president and CEO, said in a statement.