NEEDHAM, Mass., Oct. 2, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- TripAdvisor, the travel platform trusted by millions of consumers worldwide, will no longer sell tickets to, or generate revenue from, any attraction that continues to contribute to the captivity of future generations of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises), it has announced today.
As a result, any commercial facility that either breeds or imports cetaceans for public display will be banned from sale on TripAdvisor and Viator. Products currently on sale and found to breach the new rules will be removed over the next few months, with the policy in full force by the end of 2019. The new policy will not apply to seaside sanctuaries that provide care to cetaceans already in captivity.
The decision follows an extensive consultation process with a range of experts, including marine biologists, zoologists and conservationists, and considered the scientific evidence and arguments presented from all sides. It continues TripAdvisor's commitment to improving the welfare of animals globally, particularly animals in tourism.
"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," commented Dermot Halpin, President, TripAdvisor Experiences and Rentals. "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."
Conservation groups and animal welfare experts welcomed the move as an important step forward.
"TripAdvisor is on the right side of history," said Dr. Naomi Rose, Marine Mammal Scientist, Animal Welfare Institute. "Whales and dolphins cannot thrive in captivity and enlightened tourists no longer tolerate exploiting these intelligent and socially complex marine predators for human entertainment."
"This sends a clear message to other travel companies that we must end this cruel industry once and for all," said Nick Stewart, Global Head of Wildlife, Dolphins, World Animal Protection. "Together we can ensure this is the last generation of dolphins held captive for entertainment."
TripAdvisor's policy extension also takes into account that while it is possible to prevent future generations of cetaceans from a life of captivity, for those already in captivity, the situation is different. For most of the current population of cetaceans, release into the wild is not a realistic option. Therefore, the policy includes several stipulations aimed at protecting the needs, safety and health of cetaceans currently in captivity, too.
"Our aim is not only to prevent future generations of whales and dolphins from being raised in captivity, but also to encourage the industry to move towards alternative models, like seaside sanctuaries, that will better provide for the needs of the current captive population," added Dermot Halpin, President, TripAdvisor Experiences and Rentals. "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. We hope our announcement today can help turn the tide."
Today's announcement represents the latest extension of TripAdvisor's industry-leading animal welfare policy, which first launched in 2016. The policy already commits TripAdvisor and its subsidiary brand Viator to no longer sell tickets to experiences where travelers come into physical contact with captive wild animals, such as elephant ride and tiger petting experiences. It was further enhanced in 2018, at which point TripAdvisor also banned demeaning animal shows and performances from sale.
TripAdvisor Cetaceans Welfare Policy - In Full
TripAdvisor and its Viator brand will no longer sell tickets to, or directly generate revenue from, attractions or experiences where captive cetaceans are placed on public display, with the exception of:
- Any sanctuary facility that provides all of its captive cetaceans with a permanent seaside living environment*.
- Any commercial or not-for-profit facility that is in the process of developing, alternative seaside sanctuary environments* for captive cetaceans and that has made a public commitment to rehouse all captive cetaceans in its care to these environments in an expedient manner.
- Any accredited** facility that has made an official and public commitment to implement all of the following practices:
- Cease and prevent the breeding of cetaceans in its care
- Cease the importation of captive cetaceans from other facilities for public display
- Cease the capture and importation of wild cetaceans for public display
*A seaside sanctuary environment is defined as a natural 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. Seaside sanctuaries must adhere to a strict no-breeding policy, must not train their animals to perform in any shows or performances for public display, and must prohibit all forms of physical interaction between guests and the animals, including any in-water guest experiences.
**Accreditation must be provided by a member association of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA)
You can read the TripAdvisor animal welfare policy in full here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/blog/animal-welfare-policy.
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Notes to editors
Additional quotes from third party experts -
“As a leader in the travel and tourism sphere, TripAdvisor’s strong new policy regarding captive whales and dolphins is to be highly commended. They have not only listened to the public and the scientific evidence but have clearly conducted research and identified that there are ethical and welfare concerns for these animals. TripAdvisor’s support for breeding bans and genuine seaside sanctuaries show they understand these are the next logical steps towards phasing out this type of tourism. Breeding bans will avoid another generation of cetaceans suffering, whilst sanctuaries will provide the best care for those that remain in captivity and who cannot be released into the wild,” said Dr Ingrid N. Visser, Founder & Scientist, Orca Research Trust.
"We are delighted with this bold and progressive welfare initiative from TripAdvisor. We took part in the consultation process TripAdvisor conducted before they came to this decision, and we are pleased they listened to our advice. We have long campaigned to stop the tourist industry promoting whale and dolphin captivity shows. Today’s announcement sends out a clear message to the captive whale and dolphin industry that TripAdvisor will no longer work with any facility that doesn’t commit to phasing out this cruel and outdated practice," said Rob Lott, Policy Manager, Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
“Congratulations to TripAdvisor for reviewing the available evidence and coming to absolutely the right conclusions. Whales and dolphins are intelligent and social mammals that require large and wild spaces to fulfill their needs. A life in captivity is no life for a dolphin or whale, so this announcement from TripAdvisor sends yet another strong message to the wider travel industry that this form of tourism is no longer acceptable,” commented Dylan Walker, CEO, World Cetacean Alliance.
"In consultation with PETA, TripAdvisor has once again established itself as an industry leader, evolving its policy to give the best possible advice: Never buy a ticket to any place where orcas, dolphins, or other ocean-going mammals are kept captive for public display. TripAdvisor's ethical decision moves cetaceans closer to a day when their captivity has ended and they have returned to their ocean homes," said Tracy Reiman, Executive Vice President, PETA.
“I am truly inspired by TripAdvisor's attention to the wellbeing of dolphins and whales reflected in this policy revision. Science has revealed the immense suffering and early mortality imposed upon cetaceans exploited for captive public display. These facilities can also threaten real conservation efforts to save these animals in the wild. Now that we know better, we should do better, and not support these facilities by visiting them. TripAdvisor has set a precedent upon which every other responsible travel/tour company should follow,” said Toni Frohoff, Ph.D., Cetacean Behavioral Biologist, Terramar Research.
TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP), the world's largest travel platform*, helps 490 million travelers each month** make every trip their best trip. Travelers across the globe use the TripAdvisor site and app to browse more than 795 million reviews and opinions of 8.4 million accommodations, restaurants, experiences, airlines and cruises. Whether planning or on a trip, travelers turn to TripAdvisor to compare low prices on hotels, flights and cruises, book popular tours and attractions, as well as reserve tables at great restaurants. TripAdvisor, the ultimate travel companion, is available in 49 markets and 28 languages.
The subsidiaries and affiliates of TripAdvisor, Inc. own and operate a portfolio of websites and businesses, including the following travel media brands: www.airfarewatchdog.com, www.bokun.io, www.bookingbuddy.com, www.cruisecritic.com, www.familyvacationcritic.com, www.flipkey.com,
www.thefork.com (including www.lafourchette.com, www.eltenedor.com, and www.restorando.com), www.holidaylettings.co.uk, www.holidaywatchdog.com, www.housetrip.com, www.jetsetter.com, www.niumba.com, www.onetime.com, www.oyster.com, www.seatguru.com, www.smartertravel.com, www.tingo.com, www.vacationhomerentals.com and www.viator.com.
*Source: Jumpshot for TripAdvisor Sites, worldwide, April 2019
** Source: TripAdvisor internal log files, average monthly unique visitors in Q3 2018