TripAdvisor (owner of SmarterTravel.com) is among a select few corporations that wear their social conscience on their sleeves, due in large part to the conviction and efforts of company founder and CEO Steve Kaufer. The company’s latest initiative, announced this week: a ban on sales of tickets to animal attractions “where travelers come into physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species, including but not limited to elephant rides, petting tigers, and swim with dolphin attractions.”
In addition to the ticket ban, TripAdvisor will launch an educational portal designed to educate travelers about issues of wildlife conservation.
The move reportedly came at least partly in response to a petition from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) prodding TripAdvisor to stop selling tickets for elephant rides. The company decided to go further, banning sales of tickets to a wide range of animal attractions.
The ban was lauded by a host of organizations with an animal-rights focus, including PETA: “By refusing to sell tickets to businesses that treat animals as entertainment or playthings, TripAdvisor is making a precedent-setting statement about the use and abuse of animals for entertainment.”
TripAdvisor stressed that it would continue displaying animal attractions on its website that don’t meet the new animal-friendly criteria, to allow site visitors to review the attractions, positively or negatively. “The company continues to firmly believe that our community of contributors can serve as a check-and-balance on matters of quality, customer service, and social issues — such as how animals are treated in the tourism industry.”
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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.