5 Tips for Animal-Friendly Holidays

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When animal welfare took the joint top spot at the recent World Responsible Tourism Awards, it reflected a year where the subject of animal welfare in tourism has been hotly debated. In response, responsibletravel.com offers 5 tips which travellers can follow to make their holidays more animal-friendly.

From the ethics of keeping orcas and dolphins in captivity coming under intense scrutiny since the 2013 release of the documentary, Blackfish, and several subsequent high profile petitions, including this from responsibletravel.com, calling on the tourism industry to stop supporting and selling tickets to marine park shows. Then in July 2014 the tourism industry was also criticised for perpetuating the poaching of wild elephants in Burma for use in sanctuaries and camps in neighbouring Thailand, visited by tourists for their elephant shows and trekking experiences. Reponsibletravel.com published an online guide to ‘Elephants in Tourism: Right or Wrong?’ and removed elephant trekking experiences from its site as a result.

It is therefore fitting that the joint-overall winner of the 2014 World Responsible Tourism Awards, sponsored by the Sultanate of Oman Ministry of Tourism was the South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance (SAASA), applauded by the judges for its success in campaigning against the ‘pay, pet and play’ industry, and proving that tourism can successfully support sanctuaries without the need for damaging direct tourist interaction with the animals. The judges said SAASA “demonstrate[s] that it is possible to address the rights agenda, to swim against the tide, and also achieve a successful business.”

With this subject at the front of concerned travellers’ minds, leading online ethical travel agent responsibletravel.com believes 5 things travellers can do to ensure they have an animal-friendly holiday in 2015:

  •     Avoid captive animal attractions which encourage human interaction and unnatural behaviour, including (but not limited to) marine park shows, swimming with captive dolphins, elephant trekking, dancing bears and those which use animals as photographic props. Facilities offering these experiences are unlikely to have genuine conservation aims at heart.
  •     Travel with a responsible tour operator - responsibletravel.com has pre-screened every holiday to ensure commitment to responsible tourism, will not list any trips which include attractions of concern such as the ‘Tiger Temple’ in Kanchanaburi, Thailand and is constantly reviewing its stance on animal welfare issues.
  •     Research before you travel – responsibletravel.com’s series of 2 minute travel guides include expert tips and advice on responsible tiger safaris (http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/tiger-safaris), orang-utan watching (http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/orangutan) and dolphin watching (http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/dolphin-watching) amongst others.
  •     Don’t purchase souvenirs made from wildlife products or other threatened natural materials. This supports and encourages poaching and the trade in wild animals.
  •     Report any concerns – whether a sanctuary offering cuddles with tiger cubs, an accommodation with a wild pet or poor practise on a wild safari, the Born Free Foundation has a Travellers Animal Alert system where concerned travellers can report suspected cases of animal abuse in tourist attractions for further investigation.

More tips for animal-friendly holidays can be found at http://www.responsibletravel.com/copy/travellers-tips-for-animal-friendly-holidays

Notes to editors:

About responsibletravel.com:

responsibletravel.com is the world's leading online travel agent for responsible holidays and a pioneer of responsible tourism. Started in 2001 with backing from Dame Anita Roddick of The Body Shop the site's mantra is 'travel like a local'. It sells holidays that are about more than just a brief stay somewhere - instead it is travel that offers a real connection with the people, the landscape, the culture, the food and the environment. It offers over 7,500 responsible holidays from over 3,000 holiday providers which all support communities and conservation. Handpicked local specialists provide authentic holidays for those seeking adventure, culture, or luxury whether travelling with family, joining a small group or looking for tailor-made experiences worldwide.

In addition responsibletravel.com:

  • founded and organises The World Responsible Tourism Awards, celebrating 11 years at World Travel Market this year.
  • campaigns for positive change in the travel and tourism industry.
  • publishes an ever-increasing series of open, honest 2 minute travel guides

CEO Justin Francis has been included in Courvoisiers The Future 500, Thames and Hudsons 60 Innovators Shaping Our Creative Future and taken his place on the Advisory Board of The International Centre for Responsible Tourism at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The company is based in Brighton's North Laine district, England.

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Sarah Bareham
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