Booking.com has announced that it will no longer sell tickets to attractions that feature whales and dolphins in captivity, or to circus shows.
The travel booking site’s new animal welfare policy also prohibits the promotion of elephant (or ostrich rides) and other activities where there is direct contact with certain wild animals.
Tracy Reiman, the executive vice-president of US-based animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said: ‘Booking.com is helping to wipe out abusive animal attractions and bolster humane tourism in one fell swoop. PETA is urging people to do their homework and use only ethical travel companies that refuse to promote captive-animal displays.’
Earlier this month TripAdvisor announced that it would stop selling tickets to attractions that breed or import captive whales and dolphins for public entertainment.
‘The extensive evidence presented to us by the experts was compelling. Whales and dolphins do not thrive in limited captive environments, and we hope to see a future where they live as they should – free and in the wild,’ said Dermot Halpin, president of experiences and rentals for TripAdvisor.
‘We believe the current generation of whales and dolphins in captivity should be the last.’
Tripadvisor also does not sell tickets to circuses, or activities like elephant riding or petting of wild animals. However Halpin said that, ‘Seaside sanctuaries have enormous potential but they need more backing from the tourism industry. As long as facilities with captive whales and dolphins continue to profit from keeping these animals in smaller, cheaper and less-natural living environments, then they don’t have enough incentive to adopt serious change.’
The travel website defines seaside sanctuaries as ‘a body of coastal water, such as a bay or a cove, that houses cetaceans in as close to a natural environment as possible while providing protection and oversight from qualified husbandry and veterinary staff’.
It adds mentions that there must be a no-breeding policy in these sanctuaries and that the animals must not be trained to perform. There must also be no physical interaction between the animals and visitors.
Airbnb is another booking site which is committed to protecting animal welfare and has guidelines that were created in consultation with World Animal Protection. All the prohibited interactions, like riding elephants and interacting with big cats are listed here.
Airbnb has recently launched a series of ‘ethical animal experiences’ where limited numbers of people can book an interactive experience like hiking with rescue dogs or tea with ‘Mr Beeches the naughty sheep’. People can also view arctic foxes in their natural environment, go birding or horse riding as part of these experiences.