TripAdvisor has pledged to remove booking facilities for attractions featuring endangered or wild animals, such as petting tigers, riding elephants and swimming with dolphins. Tickets to zoos and aquariums, however, will remain available through its booking service.
According to the New York Times, the landmark decision — the first of its kind for an online tourism operation — comes after half a year of consultancy with animal welfare groups including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC), and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
“There are some areas that I think every one of these groups we spoke with would agree on, and there are some that are not universally agreed upon,” TripAdvisor’s chief marketing officer Barbara Messing told the Times. “We just had to [...] come to our own conclusions internally about what makes sense for us.”
All attractions can still be listed in the review section of the site, however.
A 2015 study conducted by Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, cited by the Times, found that between 2 million and 4 million people each year visit tourism destinations with questionable animal welfare — and that concern over welfare was rarely mentioned in online reviews.
“I think the average person would think that there’s animals there, there’s gotta be laws and regulations behind what’s happening, but that’s not the case,” GWC chief scientist Wes Sechrest told the Times.