Expedia Inc. on Thursday said it will identify and remove tours
and attractions where participants interact with wildlife.
The company has partnered with animal-protection groups to
identify the attractions over the coming months.
"Relying on guidance from industry-leading wildlife and
animal-protection groups, Expedia will undertake a thorough review over the
next few months and will remove activities from its websites and other distribution
channels," the company said in a statement.
While Expedia did not specifically name products, it said "activities
involving certain wildlife animal interactions will no longer be bookable on
its online travel sites."
Last October, TripAdvisor said it would stop selling
hundreds of attractions that bring tourists into contact with captive wild
animals, like elephant rides, the chance to pet tigers and swimming with
dolphins. It continued to sell attractions involving domesticated animals, like
horseback riding, aquariums with educational touch pools, feeding programs
where tourists are under supervision of officials and voluntourism programs
that involve work with endangered species.
Expedia also announced a new Wildlife Tourism Educational
Portal to launch later this year, an initiative to help educate travelers on
animal welfare. It will include information on activities offered through
Expedia, like communication as to whether activities involve animal interactions,
links to learn about wildlife tourism and animal welfare, and broader education
around animal welfare.
Expedia said it is working with groups like the Association
of Zoos and Aquariums, U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, Born Free
Foundation, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society
"Expedia can play an integral part in educating
travelers about the diverse views related to wildlife tourism, so they can make
informed decisions that align with how they travel and how they interact with
the animals that share our planet," Jen O'Twomney, vice president of
Expedia Local Expert, said in a statement. "As travelers, it is important
that we know more about the places we go, the activities we engage in, and the
ways in which we leave lasting impacts on our destinations. As we help people
go places, we want to help them do it thoughtfully, and responsibly."
Daniel Turner, associate director of tourism for the Born
Free Foundation, said Expedia's move "shows real leadership by one of the travel industry's
most influential players."