Anne Majumdar

Online travel giant Expedia has clamped down on animal attractions bookable via its site, committing to help educate travellers on animal welfare.

The company has promised to undertake a review over the coming months with activities to be removed from its websites and other distribution channels.

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Later this year, it will also launch its Wildlife Tourism Education Portal for travellers searching for animal-related activities, providing them with “detailed” information about specific activities on offer.

“Expedia can play an integral part in educating travellers about the diverse views related to wildlife tourism, so they can make informed decisions that align with how they travel and how they interact with the animals that share our planet,” Expedia Local Expert vice president Jen O’Twomney said.

“As travellers, it is important that we know more about the places we go, the activities we engage in, and the ways in which we leave lasting impacts on our destinations.

“As we help people go places, we want to help them do it thoughtfully, and responsibly.”

The new portal will “clearly” communicate whether a particular activity involves animal interactions as well as offering broader education around animal welfare.

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To achieve its goals, Expedia is working with a number of groups including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, US Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, Born Free Foundation, The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International.

“Educating travellers, so they don’t unwittingly contribute to the poaching of wildlife, is a critical component to solving this international crisis,” US Wildlife Trafficking Alliance executive director Sara Walker said.

“By buying informed, we can all work together to protect these treasured species for generations to come.”

World Animal Protection also welcomed the news as a positive step, which follows a similar move by TripAdvisor last year.

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“We are now seeing real change in the travel industry,” deputy director Audrey Mealia said.

“Travel companies that have not yet followed suit should join the movement as more companies realise the cruelty that wild animals endure behind the scenes.”

Over the last year, more than 160 travel companies committed to end their offer of venues that allow tourist to ride an elephant or watch them perform, according to WAP.

 

What do you think of Expedia’s move?