TripAdvisor Ends Sales of Tickets to Captive Cetacean Tourist Attractions
Travel Industry giant TripAdvisor has announced that it 'will no longer sell tickets to, or generate revenue from, any attraction that continues to contribute to the captivity of future generations of cetaceans,' including SeaWorld.
According to a press release on the TripAdvisor website, any commercial facility that either breeds or imports cetaceans for public display will be banned by TripAdvisor and its subsidiary company, Viator. Operators for which tickets are currently on sale and which are found to be in breach of the new policy will be removed over the next few months, with the policy expected to take full effect by the end of 2019.
The decision follows an extensive consultation process with marine biologists, zoologists and conservationists. 'The extensive evidence presented to us by the experts was compelling,' said Dermot Halpin, President of TripAdvisor Experiences and Rentals. 'We believe the current generation of whales and dolphins in captivity should be the last, and we look forward to seeing this position adopted more widely throughout the travel industry.'
Conservation groups and animal welfare experts welcomed the move as an important step forward. 'TripAdvisor is on the right side of history,' said Dr Naomi Rose, Marine Mammal Scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute. 'Whales and dolphins cannot thrive in captivity and enlightened tourists no longer tolerate exploiting these intelligent and socially complex marine predators for human entertainment.'
'This sends a clear message to other travel companies that we must end this cruel industry once and for all,' said Nick Stewart, Global Head of Wildlife, Dolphins at World Animal Protection. 'Together we can ensure this is the last generation of dolphins held captive for entertainment.'
TripAdvisor's commitment to ending captive cetacean tours is an extension of its existing animal welfare policy, first launched in 2016, in which TripAdvisor and Viator banned the sale of tickets to experiences where travellers come into physical contact with captive wild animals, such as elephant rides and tiger petting experiences. The policy was extended in 2018 to remove 'demeaning animal shows and performances' from sale.
The new policy does not apply to seaside sanctuaries that provide care to cetaceans rescued from captivity, but such facilities must be accredited by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and strictly adhere to stipulations that the animals are kept in an environment which is as natural as possible and supervised by qualified veterinary staff. The animals must not be bred nor trained to perform, and physical interaction between visitors and the animals must be strictly prohibited.
'Our aim is not only to prevent future generations of whales and dolphins from being raised in captivity, but also to encourage the industry to move towards alternative models, such as seaside sanctuaries, that will better provide for the needs of the current captive population,' said Dermot Halpin. 'As long as facilities with captive whales and dolphins continue to profit from keeping these animals in smaller, cheaper and less natural living environments, then they don’t have enough incentive to adopt serious change. We hope our announcement today can help turn the tide.'
You can read the full TripAdvisor animal welfare policy at www.tripadvisor.co.uk/blog/animal-welfare-policy-uk