By Lauren Lewis –
July 31, 2018
In a blog post titled “The Next Step In Our Animal Welfare Policy,” one of the world’s leading leisure travel groups announced that it would discontinue offering trips to destinations that exploit whales held in captivity such as SeaWorld.
The update was made yesterday by Thomas Cook’s CEO Peter Fankhauser, who noted that this marks the latest step in the company’s animal welfare policy that was announced 18 months ago.
“The policy was clear,” stated Fankhauser. “Any animal attractions we sell must be 100% compliant with ABTA animal welfare standards, as verified by our program of independent audits.”
ABTA is the acronym for the Association of British Travel Agents, which working in partnership with the Born Free Foundation, launched the one-and-a-half-year-old Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism initiative that sets a benchmark for minimum requirements in animal welfare for tourism and animal attractions industries globally.
According to Fankhauser, since the new animal welfare policy was launched, the company has audited 49 animal attractions of which it removed 29 from its offerings.
The remaining are reportedly making “significant improvements” to the way they treat their animals as a direct result of the company’s audit process.
“Today we are announcing a new addition to our animal welfare policy based on that same principle. Next summer, we will no longer sell any animal attractions that keep orcas in captivity,” explained Fankhauser who shared that more than 90% of their clients told them that it was important that their company takes animal welfare seriously. “This was not a decision we took lightly. We always said that we would continue to review our policy, conscious that the more we got into this area, the more we would learn, and conscious also of changing customer sentiment.”
Fankhauser reiterated the important role tourism has to play during the transition of ending practices that are known to harm animals.
“Today’s announcement will see Thomas Cook remove two attractions which we currently offer customers, both of which passed our audit process and made improvements to the way they treat animals,” continued Fankhauser referring to SeaWorld, in Florida, and Loro Parque in Tenerife. “We respect and applaud the work that has been done, and we will work with both over the next 12 months to prepare for our exit.”
The company will also continue to work to identify more sustainable alternatives.
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