TripAdvisor, the travel platform trusted by millions of consumers worldwide has announced today that it will no longer sell tickets to, or generate revenue from, any attraction that continues to contribute to the captivity of whales, dolphins and porpoises.
As a result, any commercial facility that either breeds or imports cetaceans for public display will be banned from sale on TripAdvisor and Viator. Products currently on sale and found to breach the new rules will be removed over the next few months, with the policy in full force by the end of 2019. The new policy will not apply to seaside sanctuaries that provide care to cetaceans already in captivity.
The decision follows an extensive consultation process with a range of experts, including marine biologists, zoologists and conservationists, and has considered the scientific evidence and arguments presented by all sides. It continues TripAdvisor’s commitment to improving the welfare of animals globally, particularly animals in tourism.
“The extensive evidence presented to us by the experts was compelling. Whales and dolphins do not thrive in limited captive environments, and we hope to see a future where they live as they should – free and in the wild,” said Dermot Halpin, President of TripAdvisor Experiences and Rentals in a statement. “We believe the current generation of whales and dolphins in captivity should be the last, and we look forward to seeing this position adopted more widely throughout the travel industry.”
Conservation groups and animal welfare experts welcomed the move as an important step forward.
“TripAdvisor is on the right side of history,” said Dr. Naomi Rose, Marine Mammal Scientist at the Animal Welfare Institute. “Whales and dolphins cannot thrive in captivity and enlightened tourists no longer tolerate exploiting these intelligent and socially complex marine predators for human entertainment.”
“This sends a clear message to other travel companies that we must end this cruel industry once and for all,” said Nick Stewart, Global Head of World Animal Protection. “Together, we can ensure this is the last generation of dolphins held captive for entertainment.”
TripAdvisor’s policy extension also takes into account that while it is possible to prevent future generations of cetaceans from a life of captivity, for those already in captivity, the situation is different. For most of the current population of cetaceans, release into the wild is not a realistic option. Therefore, the policy includes several stipulations aimed at protecting the needs, safety and health of cetaceans currently in captivity.
“Our aim is not only to prevent future generations of whales and dolphins from being raised in captivity, but also to encourage the industry to move towards alternative models, like seaside sanctuaries, that will better provide for the needs of the current captive population,” added Dermot Halpin, President of TripAdvisor Experiences and Rentals. “Seaside sanctuaries have enormous potential, but they need more backing from the tourism industry. As long as facilities with captive whales and dolphins continue to profit from keeping these animals in smaller, cheaper and less natural living environments, then they don’t have enough incentive to adopt serious change. We hope our announcement today can help turn the tide.”
Today’s announcement represents the latest extension of TripAdvisor’s industry-leading animal welfare policy, which first launched in 2016. The policy already commits TripAdvisor and its subsidiary brand Viator to no longer sell tickets to experiences where travelers come into physical contact with captive wild animals, such as elephant rides and tiger petting experiences. It was further enhanced in 2018, at which point TripAdvisor also banned demeaning animal shows and performances from sale.
TripAdvisor Cetaceans Welfare Policy – In Full
TripAdvisor and its Viator brand will no longer sell tickets to, or directly generate revenue from, attractions or experiences where captive cetaceans are placed on public display, with the exception of:
Any sanctuary facility that provides all of its captive cetaceans with a permanent seaside living environment.
Any commercial or not-for-profit facility that is in the process of developing, alternative seaside sanctuary environments* for captive cetaceans and that has made a public commitment to rehouse all captive cetaceans in its care to these environments in an expedient manner.
Any accredited facility that has made an official and public commitment to implement all of the following practices:
Cease and prevent the breeding of cetaceans in its care
Cease the importation of captive cetaceans from other facilities for public display
Cease the capture and importation of wild cetaceans for public display