Animal Welfare: What Travel Agents Aren’t Telling You
In recent years there has been a rise in awareness of animal rights and welfare which has affected many aspects of life, including tourism. When booking a holiday, your travel agent might recommend trips and excursions around the area you’re visiting. While travel agents have generally changed from individual people to online apps or websites, they function in almost exactly the same way and have almost identical purposes. By recommending trips or experiences, they hope to improve your holiday and earn some commission if you book using their services. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it has the potential to become negative if they promote experiences which are safe or disregard animal rights.
This issue has become a growing concern as the controversy of using wild animals as entertainment has been publicized and criticized in recent years. In this article we’re going to look at how travel agents might disregard animal welfare for profit and what you should be aware of when booking a trip.
What’s the Problem?
Let’s clear this up a little. We’re not saying you should avoid every experience that involves animals when you go on holiday. Some experiences with animals can be the most enjoyable and unforgettable moments of a trip, whether that be horse riding or wildlife watching. It’s just important to note than not every country or organization has the same level of animal welfare and care as we might expect. The issue comes from individual companies which don’t adhere to animal rights guidelines or aren’t regulated on the level of care they provide. Most companies that handle animals as part of its business will have guidelines or regulations to follow, but this isn’t always the case. While some specific companies will advertise their regulation or accreditation to attract more business and to prove they look after their animals, not all businesses do this.
To confuse things further, travel agents will often promote attractions which do not take good care of their animals whether they know it or not. This could be done accidentally if the agent doesn’t know the company which it is promoting well enough. However, since the agent will earn commission for its referrals, it could also be done deliberately if the company pays the agent well. In both situations, companies are profiting financially from animal cruelty or mistreatment. While it might not be easy to tell which companies look after their and which ones don’t, we’ll try to provide some tips to help with this process.
Red Flags to Watch Out For
As we’ve covered, it can sometimes be incredibly difficult to know which companies look after their animals especially when you’re booking a trip abroad. Sometimes a quick search online will help to find out if they are accredited or regulated by an animal welfare organization or by the government. You could also look online for reviews of the company from previous visitors as this might provide another insight. While these steps might not work for every company, they can help in some cases. To simplify the process, there are a number of things to look out for when choosing the attraction you might want to visit. The following list provides examples of activities which are deemed unacceptable and unethical by animal rights and welfare advocates.
- Unlicensed zoos and animal farms.
- Human interaction or feeding of wild, free-roaming animals.
- Entertainment from animals forced to behave in unnatural ways.
- Bullfighting and bull running.
- Tiger farms.
- Crocodile Wrestling.
- Ostrich Riding.
This list provides an overview of some of the main attractions which are considered to be unacceptable as far as animal welfare is concerned. If you’re looking to book a holiday and your travel agent suggests any attractions which involve these activities, or to visit a site where these activities take place, you should look for an alternative. Afterall, this is allowing companies to profit from animal cruelty for other people’s entertainment. If you are certain the recommended attraction condones the mistreatment of animals or is unregulated, you could also register your concern with the travel agency to prevent other people from booking that trip.
What to Do Next
After reading this we don’t want you to feel discouraged from booking trips to see animals when you’re on holiday. We just want to clear up why this issue exists and how to avoid booking attractions which don’t maintain high animal welfare standards. It’s just important to do some research and approach these attractions cautiously rather than booking them before you know what they’re all about. After an in-depth study from Which?, it was found that some travel agents and online booking sites have started to check their recommended attractions more thoroughly. While the process is currently ongoing and won’t likely end any time soon, this shows there is a growing demand for company transparency and a need for regulated attractions. Animal tourism cruelty might have grown in popularity by accident, misinformation or even deliberately, but with the growing demand and publicization of animal welfare standards, it might be coming to an end.
Although the companies and agencies which promote unethical attractions are at fault, we have a responsibility too for noticing these faults and registering our concerns. If an individual sumbits a complaint regarding an unaccredited zoo, farm or other activity which involves animal cruelty, and it is removed from the travel agent’s recommendations, they could save others from making a mistake. These little changes might not seem like much but they really can make a huge difference.
This article isn’t supposed to put you off booking that amazing holiday you’ve had in mind or deter you from visiting places you’ve dreamed of visiting. We’re just trying to show how the travel industry might recommend attractions which might condone animal tourism cruelty or animal mistreatment. By learning the red flags of animal attractions and what you can do to avoid or report them, you should be able to book that amazing holiday you’ve always wanted while seeing animals in a controlled and responsible way.