Travel Agents

“It’s a complete abrogation of responsibility”: Flight Centre urged to stop selling elephant riding

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

World Animal Protection has urged Flight Centre to join more than 220 travel companies in unambiguously banning the selling of elephant riding tours.

Ben Pearson, head of campaigns for World Animal Protection and a speaker at Travel DAZE 2019, said Flight Centre stopped promoting elephant riding on its website last year after a push by the non-profit organisation, but he’s now calling on the retail travel giant to put a ban on offering the practice altogether.

“The single most influential thing Flight Centre could do to help phase out cruel wildlife attractions is to stop selling tickets, as well as proactively educating their customers to avoid these venues,” he said.

“More than 220 travel companies have shown unambiguous leadership on this issue. We look forward to Flight Centre joining them.”

Pearson’s response came after the company’s Worldwise leader, Sandra Vardanega, explained why it hasn’t banned offering elephant riding at Travel DAZE, citing a “holistic approach to responsible travel” as the reason.

Travel DAZE 2019 Sandra Vardanega
Flight Centre’s Sandra Vardanega speaking at Travel DAZE 2019

“When we consider animal welfare and the environment, we need to consider the social and economic impact of our actions,” Vardanega said at the time.

“At the size of the travel company that we are, we have to consider the social and financial impact that removing a product may have on those small businesses.”

She clarified that Flight Centre favours informing, educating and empowering customers, staff and communities to effect change, as opposed to boycotting attractions. Alongside this is giving stakeholders the opportunity to “change and grow for the better,” Vardenega explained.

Pearson called this approach and Vardanega’s comments “inadequate to responsibility”.

“What [World Animal Protection] would prefer for [Flight Centre] to do is to say, ‘we did this because we knew it was the right thing to do’,” he told Travel Weekly.

“What we know is that at the heart of wildlife tourism – and cruelty to animals – is that tourists who go there, as animal lovers, do not understand how cruel those venues are.

“They don’t see a lot of the cruelty because, particularly in the case of elephant riding, it happens behind the scenes – tourists don’t see it.

“For Flight Centre to say, ‘we’ll continue to sell tickets to venues which engage in these activities, and it’s really up to tourists to be educated’, is a complete abrogation of responsibility, at a time when we really need the tourism industry to be showing leadership on this.”

Pearson said the travel industry is taking steps toward “doing the right thing” in other sustainability areas by addressing carbon emissions, orphanage tourism and environmental sustainability. However, he believes tourism needs to up its game when it comes to stamping out animal cruelty.

Recently, major travel and holiday companies like Virgin Holidays and United Airlines made the commitment to stop selling tickets to and promoting SeaWorld, due to the attraction seen to be profiting from animal cruelty.

Qantas recently backflipped on its decision to stop partnering with venues that house captive cetaceans, a move that was slammed by Pearson and World Animal Protection.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

One response to ““It’s a complete abrogation of responsibility”: Flight Centre urged to stop selling elephant riding”

  1. Maybe Flight Center could encourage those activity suppliers
    to change the activity structure – learn about elephants
    watch them from viewing platforms – you dont always have to pat/ride/kiss a wild animal to get enjoyment especially to the detriment of the main attraction! Shame FC use your buying power for good not evil!

Leave a Reply

Technology

Luxury Escapes CEO and marketing boss make quiet exit

by Huntley Mitchell

On the flipside, the online travel company has just appointed its first chief growth and consumer product officer.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Helloworld punished for “technical oversight”, with company shares suspended on ASX

by Huntley Mitchell

Andrew Burnes has been left red-faced after Helloworld left out some “technical information” in the company’s unaudited FY20 results.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Australia’s Tourism Restart Taskforce says preparedness of airlines, airports critical in reviving international travel

by Christian Fleetwood

Interestingly, the Tourism Restart Taskforce is lacking a representative from Australia’s airlines or airports.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Hotel Wrap: Nominate a mate for a Club Med holiday, QT Hotels launches dog stays + MORE

This week’s Hotel Wrap is all about spoiling yourself and your clients with a host of deals, competitions and doggie stays.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Flight Centre to close at least 90 more stores

In sad news, domestic and international border closures have caused further store closures for Flight Centre, leaving it with 330 of the 740 stores the brand had before COVID-19.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

DFAT accidentally reveals email addresses of Aussies stranded overseas

by Christian Fleetwood

The embarrassing blunder by DFAT comes after it reportedly terminated as many as 100 contractors, with some of those having worked in IT and policy roles.

Share

CommentComments

Road & Rail

Road & Rail Wrap: Rail Europe teams up with Aeronology, Mary Valley Rattler champions accessibility + MORE

Have your Thursdays been feeling hollow of late? Like there is some kind of gaping void gnawing away at the day? It’s probably because we haven’t run a Road & Rail Wrap for a few weeks.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Become a certified ‘SA Expert’ and gain access to exclusive offers (plus a whole lot more)

by Sponsored by South Australian Tourism Commission

With nearly all domestic borders open to South Australia, now is a good time to get up to date on the best experiences this state has to offer.

Share

CommentComments

Technology

Julie King launches global platform for industry learning and collaboration

The new platform will host a FREE 10-week webinar series, so you’re practically losing money if you don’t attend. At least, that’s our understanding.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Rex signs letters of intent on six leased 737s for domestic routes

Rex’s ambitions of becoming a domestic route competitor to Qantas and Virgin are becoming a reality. Next step: a team song.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Corporate Travel Management raises $262m to help fund US acquisition

Much to the delight of CTM’s executives, investors have wasted no time snapping up newly-offered shares in the company.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Cruise Wrap: Carnival reveals Mardi Gras atrium plans, Silversea revamps online training + MORE

This week’s Cruise Wrap is so hefty, we reckon that if each letter weighed a tonne, it would equate to a 4,000-pax ship. However, we’re not mathematicians and we also haven’t made any effort to count each individual letter.

Share

CommentComments