ONLINE travel agency (OTA) Expedia has announced it will no longer sell “activities involving certain wildlife animal interactions” on its travel sites.
As part of an ongoing review of its policies over the next few months, Expedia will remove activities from other distribution channels and websites following guidance from wildlife and animal protection groups.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) has hailed the move as good news. According to a statement on their website: “The tide against tourist traps that imprison wild animals for entertainment has been steadily turning since last year, when Peta first called on Expedia and other travel companies to ban elephant rides.”
Expedia Local Expert vice-president Jen O’Twomney said in a press statement: “Expedia can play an integral part in educating travelers 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 is not the first OTA to halt ticket sales to animal attractions; last year, TripAdvisor stopped selling tickets to activities such as elephant rides, tiger petting and swimming with dolphins.
The platform also partnered with several conservation experts and animal rights groups to launch an education portal aimed at educating travelers about animal welfare practices in tourism.
A recent Reuters report revealed hundreds of elephants used for tourism are kept in “severely cruel” conditions with almost 80 percent of about 3,000 elephants in Asia are overworked, and enduring poor living conditions and diets.
Thailand alone recorded 4,000 domesticated elephants, many of which work in the tourism trade.