Expedia, Inc. has recently announced that activities involving certain wildlife animal interactions will no longer be bookable on its online travel sites. Relying on guidance from industry-leading wildlife and animal protection groups, Expedia will undertake a thorough review over the next few months and will remove activities from its websites and other distribution channels.
Today’s announcement also comes with the launch of a new initiative committing the company to improving education for travelers about animal welfare. Launching later this year, travelers searching for animal-related activities will be presented with detailed information about specific activities offered through Expedia on a new Wildlife Tourism Education Portal.
Working in concert with globally renowned and respected zoo, anti-animal trafficking and animal protection groups such as The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, Born Free Foundation, The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, Expedia is determined to put animal welfare and standards of care for animals involved in these wildlife activities at the forefront of the travel planning discussion.
“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,” said Jen O’Twomney, vice president, Expedia Local Expert®. “As travelers, it is important that we know more about the places we go, the activities we engage in, and the ways in which we leave lasting impacts on our destinations. As we help people go places, we want to help them do it thoughtfully, and responsibly.”
Some of the features of the Wildlife Tourism Education Portal include:
- Clear communication as to whether an activity involves animal interactions, with a direct link to learn more about wildlife tourism and animal welfare; and
- Broader education around animal welfare and links to participate in the conversation and take action if a traveler is interested.
“Expedia’s decision shows real leadership by one of the travel industry’s most influential players,” said Daniel Turner, associate director of tourism, Born Free Foundation. “Tackling the risks to animals, people and the natural environment while, at the same time, improving the tourism experience, are not mutually exclusive. Born Free welcomes Expedia’s commitment to ensure that, in the future their customers can make informed decisions about the suitability of animal interactions before they finalize their travel plans. We are committed to helping Expedia and the wider travel industry eliminate activities that compromise the welfare of animals and threaten public safety.”
“Our planet’s wildlife is disappearing at a devastating rate as poachers meet consumer demand for exotic wildlife products,” said Sara Walker, executive director, U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance. “With its significant global reach and influence, the travel and tourism industry can make an enormous impact in helping to end the scourge of wildlife trafficking. We applaud Expedia for joining a global collaboration to educate travelers through its new educational portal. Educating travelers, so they don’t unwittingly contribute to the poaching of wildlife, is a critical component to solving this international crisis. By buying informed, we can all work together to protect these treasured species for generations to come.”
Michael Markarian, chief operating officer, The Humane Society of the United States, said, “Travelers have many great options for celebrating their love of animals and supporting a humane economy. But they are often unaware that animal suffering may lurk behind many animal attractions and tourist traps that don’t have the animals’ best interest at heart. We thank Expedia for helping people and animals avoid a bad trip.”