TripAdvisor has announced it will no longer sell tickets to attractions that breed or import captive whales, dolphins and porpoises.
The move will see attractions and events at marine parks like Sea World no longer sold on TripAdvisor and Viator – a subsidiary of the OTA – by the end of 2019, the company announced on Wednesday, and comes as an extension of TripAdvisor’s recently introduced animal welfare policy.
As well as not selling tickets to attractions that display captive whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) in limited environments, the policy also bans ticket sales on attractions that allow tourists to touch captive wild animals, including elephants and tigers, and “demeaning” animal shows and performances.
TripAdvisor Experiences and Rentals’ president Dermot Halpin said he hoped to see a future where cetaceans “live as they should – free and in the wild”.
“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,” Halpin said.
The new rules by the company are focused on future generations of marine mammals. But for animals currently in captivity, where release into the wild is not “a realistic option”, the policy also aims at protecting animals that cannot be returned to their natural environment.
For attractions to be eligible for ticket sales on TripAdvisor, they must have facilities with a permanent seaside living environment. Non-profit organisations developing alternative seaside environments, and accredited facilities committed to ceasing importation and breeding of cetaceans, will also be exempt from TripAdvisor’s policy.
In an statement, World Animal Protection (WAP) Australia lauded the move by TripAdvisor and said its looking forward to seeing Australian travel companies following form.
“We are thrilled that TripAdvisor is now ending the sale and promotion of all captive dolphin and whale attractions,” Ben Pearson, head of campaigns Australia at WAP said. “We look forward to Australian travel companies and airlines matching this move.
“No Australian company should be profiting from animal cruelty,” Pearson said.
“Millions of animal lovers every year are fooled into thinking that dolphin shows, and experiences are cruelty-free, educational and good for conservation efforts. But this could not be further from the truth.”
Last month, the non-profit animal welfare organisation slammed Flight Centre’s “holistic” approach to elephant riding, a controversial attraction that remains in the travel company’s line-up.
At the time, Flight Centre explained it had to bear in mind how the closure of a tour and ceasing operations with a supplier effects small businesses, the people that work for these businesses, and – in some instances – the animals that remain in their care.
Featured image: Supplied by World Animal Protection Australia