While experiencing wildlife up close may be a huge draw for some travelers, one of the world’s largest travel websites won’t be selling tickets to hundreds of attractions where humans come into contact with wild animals: TripAdvisor, and its booking service Viator, says it’s done selling tickets to those kinds of experiences.
That means no more elephant rides, swimming with dolphins, or attractions that let visitors pet endangered species like tigers, among other things, the company announced on Tuesday (h/t The New York Times).
TripAdvisor, the first major travel booking site to institute such a policy, spent about six months researching the issue with the help of animal groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), and others.
Animal welfare groups say dolphins and elephants held in activity for the amusement of humans can suffer severe physical and psychological damage.
“TripAdvisor is a leader in the industry and we understand and applaud that this is a precedent-setting move,” a corporate liaison for PETA, Stephanie Shaw said.
The booking site also says it’s created a wildlife tourism education portal to help inform users about animal welfare issues.
“We believe the end result of our efforts will be enabling travelers to make more thoughtful choices about whether to visit an animal attraction and to write more meaningful reviews about those attractions,” TripAdvisor’s chief executive and co-founder, Stephen Kaufer, said in a statement.
Exempt from the new policy will be: domestic animals, e.g. horseback riding, and children’s petting zoos with domestic animals like rabbits, etc.; aquarium touch pools used for education purposes where tourists are under the supervision of zoo, aquarium and or wildlife officials; feeding programs where tourists are under the supervision of zoo and or wildlife officials; and voluntourism programs for endangered species preservation at zoos, aquariums or sanctuaries where it is possible that there might be some level of physical interaction with an animal.
Animal attractions will remain on the site in the review section, including those that are no longer bookable. The ones you aren’t allowed to buy tickets for will be marked with a “PAW” icon that links instead to the education portal.
Tickets for some attractions will disappear from the site immediately, but the booking policy changes won’t be completely implemented until early 2017.
by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist