Elephant rides on the wane

SHANGHAI, 16 August 2019: Chinese tourists are less likely to ride elephants in Thailand and prefer wildlife-friendly tours, according to a report by the World Animal Protection (WAP) China quoted by Global Times on Monday.

To mark Elephant Day (12 August) China’s Global Times weighed in with details of the report that claims there has been a significant drop in Chinese tourists who ride elephants and watch elephant shows in Thailand.

The report says elephant rides dropped 13% and watching elephant show declined 26% since 2016.

WAP interviewed tourists visiting Thailand from 15 main tourist-source counties. It concluded that 37% of Chinese tourists think that riding an elephant is acceptable, 8% fewer than in 2017 and lower than the global average of 41%.

About 77% of the Chinese interviewed said they would rather see animals in the wild, while 81% agreed that tour agencies should avoid activities that cause sufferings to wild animals.

“The drop in Chinese tourists riding elephants and watching elephant shows is another piece of good news after China banned the ivory trade in 2017,” WAP China said.

Chinese tourists account for 28% of international tourists, visiting Thailand.

In 2015, the WAP launched a campaign to promote the idea that “wildlife is not a plaything,”  while asking tour agencies to stop promoting tours that could harm wildlife. They are encouraged to promote sustainable animal-friendly tourism.

By the end of July, 15 Chinese tour agencies among 240 companies worldwide – joined the campaign and promised to remove wildlife attractions, including elephant rides and show. Five of the Chinese companies also signed a wildlife-friendly tourism intent statement, the report said.


  1. Always good to hear that people are adopting animal friendly habits. However, the problem with elephant tourism is that riding and shows are not the only criteria to determine whether a place is animal friendly or not. Also, I wonder if the decline is adjusted for the general decrease in Chinese arrivals in Thailand. With a decrease of the arrivals, a decrease in elephant rides is only normal. Anyway, overall it’s a positive development, so way to go China!

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