TripAdvisor has updated its animal welfare policy. // © 2016 iStock
TripAdvisor and its Viator brand will no longer offer, book tickets or receive revenue for attractions that do not meet its updated animal welfare policy. This includes tourism experiences where travelers have physical contact with endangered or captive species, such as elephant rides, tiger petting and swim-with-dolphin programs.
Why It Matters:
The historic decision follows six months of discussions with animal welfare, trade and tourism organizations. TripAdvisor will continue to display the listings of the affected animal attractions and publish consumer reviews. However, the website will be rolling out an educational portal linked from the listings that will provide information on animal welfare practices, too. Though many tour operators have also put a stop to harmful animal attractions, this is the first major travel website to take such a stand, and it may inspire others to follow suit.
- Booking policy changes and the educational portal will roll out completely by early 2017.
- Exceptions to the policy apply to certain animal experiences, including those involving domestic animals, aquarium touch pools, feeding programs and voluntourism programs.
- The new policy is an addition to TripAdvisor and Viator’s longtime standard policy of prohibiting the listing and reviews of businesses that practice blood sport with the use of captive wild animals or endangered species, such as bullfights.
What They Are Saying:
“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, president and CEO of TripAdvisor. “At the same time, we want to celebrate those destinations and attractions that are leaders in caring for animals and those in the tourism industry who help further the cause of animal welfare, conservation and the preservation of endangered species. We want to thank the dozens of trade groups, academics and nongovernmental organizations who helped us design our path forward as a company.”