BY: SAMANTHA TAPP
TripAdvisor, one of the most well-known travel review sites, and its ticket sales company, Viator, will no longer be selling tickets to hundreds of tourist attractions that are considered cruel to animals. With few exceptions, travellers will have to look elsewhere to buy tickets to attractions where they have physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species.
TripAdvisor specifically listed elephant rides, petting tigers and swimming with dolphins as some of the attractions that will be banned under the new policy. The policy was created with help from tourism, animal welfare and conservation groups, but travellers and animal welfare campaigners alike have been badgering travel companies for years saying the tourism industry encourages the cruel treatment of animals.
According to National Geographic, animal attractions have been known to cause the animals psychological and physical trauma that can shorten their lives. Inevitably, it also results in more animals being taken from the wild.
The new policy will still allow physical contact in certain situations, as with attractions with domestic animals. This means horseback riding, children’s petting zoos, aquarium touch pools and feeding grounds with supervision will still be available on the site.
The ban will take effect on various attractions immediately, but will come in full effect at the beginning of 2017. TripAdvisor is also installing an education portal on the site that will attempt to educate tourists regarding the exploitation of animals and the implications of wildlife tourist attractions.
“TripAdvisor’s new booking policy and education effort is 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,” said Stephen Kaufer, TripAdvisor president.
The new ban is expected to take a toll on ticket sales to hundreds of attractions worldwide. However, TripAdvisor received some backlash to the new policy announcement as they will still allow the newly banned attractions to be listed, rated and reviewed on the site. Although, they will now be listed with a link to the education portal.