TripAdvisor on Wednesday said that it would stop selling
hundreds of attractions in which tourists come into physical
contact with captive wild animals.
The website sells hundreds of thousands of attractions to
travelers, and of those, thousands involve animals in some way, according to
Brian Hoyt, senior director of corporate communications for TripAdvisor. Of
those involving animals, hundreds will be impacted by the new policy, such as
elephant rides, the opportunity to pet tigers and swimming with dolphins.
TripAdvisor will continue to sell attractions that involve
domesticated animals, such as horseback riding and children’s petting zoos;
aquariums that have touch pools used for educational purposes; feeding programs
where tourists are under the supervision of zoo and or wildlife officials; and
voluntourism programs in which the volunteers work with endangered species at
zoos, aquariums or sanctuaries.
TripAdvisor discontinued selling
some attractions immediately, and the remaining changes will be fully
implemented by early 2017.
Also by early 2017, TripAdvisor plans to launch an education
portal that will be linked to every animal attraction listing on TripAdvisor
that will provide information about animal-welfare practices, and “enable
travelers to make more informed booking decisions and improve the standards of
animal care in tourism worldwide,” the company said in a statement.
The new policy and portal were “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," stated Stephen
Kaufer, TripAdvisor’s president and CEO. “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.”
According to advocacy group World Animal Protection, the
decision came six months after World Animal Protection launched a petition
urging TripAdvisor to take action, and more than 558,000 supporters around the
world called upon TripAdvisor to stop profiting from the sale of wildlife
TripAdvisor is the latest company that has decided to stop
offering certain animal encounters.
For years, TripAdvisor has prohibited the listing or
publishing of reviews for businesses that used captive wild animals or
endangered species for blood sport, such as bullfights and captive hunts. That
policy still stands.