The travel website will still allow users to review the attractions, but will link to a web portal on animal conservation
The travel review website TripAdvisor, along with its tickets sales company Viator, has announced that it will no longer sell tickets to attractions around the world that are considered cruel to wild animals, including elephant rides, swim-with-dolphin experiences, and venues that allow tourists to pet tigers and other exotic cats.
TripAdvisor’s decision comes after an 18-month protest campaign by the World Animal Protection advocacy group, as well as National Geographic, which reported on how TripAdvisor was lagging behind industry best practice by continuing to promote the attractions despite dozens of other tour operators refusing to do so.
Animal welfare groups say that attractions and experiences of this kind catering for largely western tourists have been repeatedly shown to traumatically affect the animals involved, shortening their lives and causing physical and psychological damage. The tourist trend also means that more animals are captured from their natural habitats and kept in captivity unnecessarily.
According to reports, when being trained to carry tourists, elephants go through a process known as a ‘crush’, which sees them crammed into small cages and beaten with sticks studded with nails. Cats like tigers and lions are routinely sedated to make it safer for tourists to pose beside them in photographs, while dolphins, highly intelligent creatures, are unable to play and hunt as they would in open seas, raising their stress levels and resulting in abnormal behaviour.
After months of pressure, TripAdvisor has now revealed it will not only end sales to animal attractions, but will also develop an online portal to inform tourists on the ethical and conservation implications associated with patronising such experiences. While tourists will still be able to review the attractions, TripAdvisor will link each one’s entry to its education portal.
“TripAdvisor’s new booking policy and education effort are 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,” said TripAdvisor president and CEO Stephen Kaufer.
“We believe the end result of our efforts will be enabling travellers to make more thoughtful choices about whether to visit an animal attraction and to write more meaningful reviews about those attractions.”