BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON, 26 July 2017: Elephant rides, swimming with dolphins and getting pally with drugged tigers are heading for the exit as major travel websites remove interactive wildlife bookings from their inventory.
Travelocity was the first to pull the plug on interactive wildlife bookings and by late last week Expedia followed.
Expedia announced that it is withdrawing bookings for some wildlife activities immediately and will make a full review of all activities linked to wildlife based on guidance from wildlife protection groups.
Booking websites have been under pressure from wildlife protection groups to stop promoting tourist activities that offer wildlife attractions such as elephant rides. Expedia has been the target for a petition that started last year.
In October 2016, TripAdvisor and its Viator ticketing service became the first to discontinue selling tickets for specific tourism experiences where travellers came into physical contact with captive wild animals, or endangered species, including activities such as elephant rides and swimming with dolphins.
Expedia in its latest statement said it would embark on a programme to improve education for travellers about animal welfare.
Due to be launched later this year, travellers searching for animal-related activities will be presented with detailed information about specific activities offered through Expedia on a new wildlife tourism education portal.
Working with global anti-animal trafficking and animal protection groups, Expedia says it is determined to put animal welfare and standards of care for animals involved in these wildlife activities at the forefront of the travel planning discussion.
“Expedia can play an integral part in educating travellers about the diverse views related to wildlife tourism,” said The Humane Society of the United States chief operating officer, Michael Markarian. “Travellers have many great options for celebrating their love of animals and supporting a humane economy. But they are often unaware that animal suffering may lurk behind many animal attractions and tourist traps that don’t have the animals’ best interest at heart.”