TripAdvisor, the world’s largest online portal for travel reviews, has announced that it will stop selling tickets to cruel wildlife attractions in which tourists come into direct contact with animals. This includes the likes of elephant rides and tiger temples, both of which are popular throughout Southeast Asia, as well as other attractions where visitors are able to swim with dolphins.
The move comes as a result of growing international pressure for the site to start taking more responsibility for the conservation implications of its booking policy. For example, an online petition launched by World Animal Protection calling on TripAdvisor to stop selling tickets to certain attractions recently gained hundreds of thousands of signatures.
National Geographic also took up the fight by producing a number of reports into how some of the travel experiences sold by TripAdvisor’s booking company Viator were promoting animal cruelty.
Tiger temples, for instance, have been criticized for the way that animals are regularly sedated in order to make them more docile while being forced to pose for photographs with visitors, while elephants used for rides are often put through a brutal training program, in which they are beaten and kept in unacceptable living conditions.
Similarly, captive dolphins are denied a fulfilling life, and have neither the space nor the resources to hunt or socialize.
As well as halting ticket sales to these attractions, TripAdvisor is to launch a new portal to educate tourists about animal welfare and conservation. Currently under development, the online resource is being created in collaboration with the likes of Global Wildlife Conservation, Asian Elephant Support and Think Elephants International, World Animal Protection, and Oxford University’s WildCRU.
“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 TripAdvisor president and CEO Stephen Kaufer in a statement.
However, some have criticized the company for not going far enough, as it will continue to allow these attractions to be listed, rated, and reviewed on its site.