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In an unprecedented move, TripAdvisor has decided to stop selling tickets to attractions where humans come in contact with wild or endangered animals held in captivity. As an industry leader this update to TripAdvisor ticket selling policy is being hailed as a huge positive step towards animal welfare in the travel industry.
TripAdvisor Ticket Selling Policy
The ban on ticket sales to certain animal attractions will include Elephant rides, Tiger petting, riding on Dolphins, among other activities used as entertainment which infringe upon animal welfare. This decision was based on rigorous consultation with animal welfare groups and associations. While the sale of tickets will be suspended, site users will still be able to review these attractions as per current policies.
TripAdvisor has also announced a creation of a wildlife education portal that will inform site users reviewing such facilities of animal welfare issues. These policy changes will be put in place with the portal set to release in early 2017.
According to a comprehensive study conducted and published by Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, between 2-4 million tourists visit establishments and destinations with dubious animal welfare standards. And that animal welfare issues or concerns are not mentioned in online reviews on most travel and tourism platforms. As per TripAdvisor’s press release, “The content on TripAdvisor’s education portal will provide numerous points of view from experts in the fields of sustainable tourism, animal welfare, wildlife conservation and the zoological and marine sciences.”
TripAdvisor consultation group and partners include, among others, organizations like PETA and Association of Zoos and Aquariums that have locked heads consistently over animal welfare. Walking a tight rope, TripAdvisor has decided to continue selling tickets to zoos and aquariums. It will also include exemptions for domestic animals, supervised animal feeding programs, children’s petting zoos etc.
While TripAdvisor undertakes this big change it will also establish an appeals process for establishments that have been excluded through this update but can provide evidence and prove otherwise.
My Thoughts and Takeaway
TripAdvisor’s initiative is not perfect by any means but is a step in the right direction and over time the policy will hopefully undergo further refinements, for the better. As a member of the travel industry and an animal welfare supporter I feel this has been one of the best initiatives coming out of the industry in recent times. I hope it produces a positive cascading effect for other sectors of the travel industry.
As a traveler, we must always be cognizant and uphold our responsibilities towards the welfare and rights of all beings that we share this world with.