Expedia Group must stop selling tickets to dolphin shows, according to a damning new report.
Non-profit organisation World Animal Protection (WAP) is calling on Expedia Group to stop profiting from “extreme animal cruelty”, and join other major travel companies, including TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and Virgin Holidays, in discontinuing ticket sales to captive dolphin venues.
This comes after a landmark report, Behind the smile: the multi-billion dollar dolphin entertainment industry, revealed the OTA is playing a major role in continuing to make dolphinariums and dolphin attractions profitable.
Expedia Group and its subsidiaries are reportedly offering tickets to more than 30 dolphin facilities across the world, with ticket sales generated by the OTA enough to support the keeping of 500 dolphins in captivity, the non-profit alleges.
There are 336 dolphin entertainment venues in 54 countries around the world. Combined, they “imprison” more than 3,000 dolphins, and generate between US$1.1–5.5 billion, WAP reported.
Expedia Group is a significant driver of the controversial dolphin industry, and one of the only major OTAs to continue selling tickets to captive dolphin facilities.
“During our research, we reviewed the travel products sold by 31 of the leading travel companies to see if they included any of the top ten largest dolphin facilities that we identified,” the non-profit writes.
“We found that two out of three companies offer at least one of the ten largest dolphin facilities in their products. Some offer up to eight.
“Expedia Group was one of the companies that offered not only the most of the top ten dolphin facilities but also many more,” WAP reported.
TripAdvisor announced earlier this month it will not continue to sell tickets to attractions and events at marine parks that breed, import, or display captive dolphins in confined environments. Booking.com has also announced a policy of not selling or promoting captive dolphin and whale attractions.
WAP has also called on travel organisations to choose responsible wild dolphin attractions, certified by accredited operators that have dolphins’ wellbeing at heart, the non-profit reported.
In their natural environment, dolphins swim 100 square kilometres of ocean freely, sometimes much more.
Captive dolphin parks in Australia have been the recent target of World Animal Protection Australia, which is calling on Flight Centre, Qantas, and other major brands to stop selling tickets to Sea World on the Gold Coast.
Australia remains a small player in the captive dolphin industry, with over 60 per cent of all captive dolphins worldwide kept by just five countries: China (23 per cent), Japan (16 per cent), the United States of America (13 per cent), Mexico (eight per cent) and Russia (five per cent).
Visiting a dolphin show is the third most common tourism activity involving wild animals, with more than 284 million people having watched a show or performance involving dolphins in the last three years, the report found. In addition, more than 83 million people swam with dolphins in the last three years.
“Dolphin entertainment is animal cruelty masquerading as wholesome family fun. These highly intelligent and sociable wild animals are imprisoned for up to 50 years in small, barren tanks,” Ben Pearson, World Animal Protection Australia’s head of campaigns, said.
“For a wild animal like dolphins at Sea World on the Gold Coast, a life spent in a tank is not a life, it is a life sentence – we need to make this the last generation of dolphins in captivity.
“Companies like Expedia Group, Flight Centre and Qantas that sell tickets to these shows are cashing in on cruelty,” Pearson said.
“Expedia Group offer tickets to demeaning shows that exploit animals they are profiting from the suffering of 500 dolphins in captivity at 32 entertainment venues across the globe, including Sea World.
“Major travel brands like TripAdvisor, Virgin Holidays, British Airways Holidays, Booking.com have already shown leadership and cut ties – now it’s time for others to follow suit,” Pearson added.
Travel Weekly has contacted Sea World Marine Park Gold Coast Australia and Expedia Group for comment.
Featured image: Supplied by World Animal Protection Australia