When you travel to a place which is famous for its animal attractions, are you concerned about how the animals are treated? Lately, there has been an increasing number of animal abuse cases reported in the news as well as on social media.
International travel booking site TripAdvisor plans to lead the way in improving animal welfare standards in tourism. TripAdvisor and its Viator brand will stop selling tickets for specific tourism experiences where travellers come into physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species, such as elephant rides, petting tigers, or swimming with and riding dolphins.
The company will also launch a wildlife tourism education portal, with the endorsement of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, and in partnership with top accredited trade groups, conservation organisations, academic experts, tourism experts, and animal welfare groups. By early 2017, every attraction listed on TripAdvisor that involves animals will be identified with a “Paw” icon linking to this education portal that provides links and information on animal welfare practices to help travellers write more informed reviews about their experience, and creates awareness on views that exist on conservation and tourism attractions.
“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 protection,” said TripAdvisor president and CEO Stephen Kaufer. “At the same time, we want to celebrate those destinations and attractions that are leaders in caring for animals and those in the tourism industry who help further the cause of animal welfare, conservation and the preservation of endangered species,” he added.
Animal attractions that meet standard listing guidelines will continue to be displayed on TripAdvisor so that travellers can review those establishments, whether or not they meet the company’s criteria as a booking partner.
The policy does not affect animal attractions involving domestic animals like horseback riding and children’s petting zoos with tame animals; aquarium touch pools used for educational purposes under the supervision of officials; feeding programmes under the supervision of officials; volunteerism programmes for endangered species preservation at zoos, aquariums or sanctuaries where there might be some interaction with the animals.