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A popular travel booking site says it will no longer facilitate bookings for certain types of animal-themed destinations.
TripAdvisor has put its heart and conscience where its wallet is: in support of animal welfare. TripAdvisor and its affiliate, Viator brand tours and outings, will stop selling tickets for experiences in which tourists come into physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species. Some ticket sales for these attractions will stop immediately and others will cease by early 2017.
That means that you won’t be able to purchase a swim with the dolphin experience, an elephant ride, or a tiger petting session, at least not through TripAdvisor or Viator. In conjunction with this ban on bookings, TripAdvisor plans to launch an education portal linked to every animal attraction listed on the site. Denoted by a “PAW” icon, the site provides information, links on animal welfare practices, and points of view from experts in the field on sustainable tourism, animal welfare, and wildlife conservation, as well as zoological and marine sciences. TripAdvisor hopes the information will lead to more informed user reviews.
“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 practices,” said Stephen Kaufer, president and CEO, TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor isn’t against all animal and tourist experiences. “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, “ said Kaufer.
“By refusing to sell tickets to businesses that treat animals as entertainment or playthings, TripAdvisor is making a precedent-setting statement about the use and abuse of animals for entertainment,” said PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) executive vice president Tracy Reiman. “PETA looks forward to contributing to TripAdvisor’s industry-leading education portal, which will empower people around the world to make better decisions when it comes to animal-friendly travel.”
You will still be able to purchase tickets for horseback riding, petting sheep and goats at a children’s zoo, and holding starfish at an aquarium touch pool. Other exclusions to the no-booking policy include zoo feeding programs where tourists are supervised by zoo or wildlife officials and voluntourism programs for endangered species at zoos, aquariums, or sanctuaries.
How do you feel about TripAdvisor’s changes? Have you enjoyed swimming with dolphins or other experiences that will now be banned from TripAdvisor?