Thursday 13 October 2016

TripAdvisor banned ticket sales to places that allow contact with wild animals


TripAdvisor, a pioneer in the travel industry, says it will no longer sell tickets to attractions where tourists come into contact with wild animals or endangered species.

TripAdvisor is launching a "no touching of wild animals" policy, whereby it will no longer sell tickets to attractions where travellers come into physical contact with captive, wild or endangered animals. As well as swimming with dolphins, the policy also covers petting tigers and elephant rides, a tourism experience that animal welfare charities have long campaigned against.

It’s a move that many animal welfare and conservation charities have welcomed. Stephanie Shaw from PETA says: "We applaud TripAdvisor taking this stance, helping to raise awareness. Elephant training, for example, is brutal and cruel."

Human and wild animal interaction has never been so available, nor so fraught with possible conflicts. Around the world, especially where government management is either inadequate or absent, wild animals are vulnerable to operators eager to push the boundaries.

Often there are no controls. At the bottom of the market, you can find tigers doped to allow tourists to get close for a cuddle, or elephants thoroughly traumatised by violent training.

Richard Rees, director of the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme, is clear about what goes on during whale shark trips: "In some places, it’s a free-for-all. We see touching, riding, flash photography, obstruction – all sorts of bad practices."

At the same time as these kinds of experiences have flourished, TripAdvisor has grown into the world’s largest travel website, with 690,000 attractions listed and 385m reviews. Attractions listed on the site have been bookable since 2014, when the company acquired bookings firm Viator.

TripAdvisor believes hundreds of businesses could be affected by its policy although it will not say exactly how many, or name the companies that will be affected. And while it will not sell attractions that allow physical interaction with animals, it will continue to list them.



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