New award inspires travel businesses to care for animals.


Born Free Foundation is applauding the announcement that the 2014 World Responsible Tourism Awards will include a special honour for the ‘Best Animal Welfare Initiative’. This move appropriately acknowledges positive actions taken by travel businesses to reduce their impact on animal welfare and is expected to inspire the travel industry to protect animals used in tourism.

Daniel Turner, spokesperson for Born Free on responsible tourism issues, said: “We know how much the British public care about animals and support actions to improve their well-being both at home and abroad. This award acknowledges that there are many tourist activities that are detrimental to animals and encourages practices that ensure higher standards in animal care around the world. Animals should not be caged, tethered, ridden, or chased just to entertain unwitting tourists on holiday.”

According to mainstream tour operators, animal interactions are reportedly included in 70% of tourism excursions. These include a variety of tourism activities such as viewing animals in captivity in zoos or dolphinaria, use of animals for riding or load-bearing purposes, as well as the sale of souvenirs made from wildlife products. Such activities undermine animal welfare. Responsible tourism, where animals are viewed respectfully with a focus on their welfare, can ensure a positive holiday experience for both wildlife and people.

“Animal welfare is a growing concern in the tourism industry and in many aspects of everyday life”, said Justin Francis, Founder of the World Responsible Tourism Awards. “We have noticed that there is increasing awareness of responsibility in tourism towards animal welfare and numerous travel businesses have made significant efforts to reduce their negative impacts. The ‘Best Animal Welfare Initiative’ award has been created to acknowledge the topic’s significance and the commended actions by some in the industry, but further to convey to the global travel industry that animals matter.”

The Born Free Foundation has established Travellers’ Animal Alert, an initiative that encourages people to report animals in need; information that is used to investigate malpractice and influence change.

Feedback is also relayed to the travel industry in the hope that they too travel responsibly and consider how animals are used in tourism. Born Free works directly with numerous tour operators (including TUI Travel, Thomas Cook, Virgin Holidays, Kuoni, Audley Travel and Explore) to establish standards in animal welfare. Most recently, tour operators STA Travel and Intrepid Travel have removed elephant rides from their Asian holidays, following concerns about elephant welfare.

Will Travers OBE, President of the Born Free Foundation, concludes: “Thousands of concerned members of the public have contacted us in distress over what they witness being done to animals while on holiday. Born Free Foundation trusts that the ‘Best Animal Welfare Initiative’ award will focus the entire travel industry’s attention on best practices in animal welfare, encourage higher standards in animal care and help phase-out some of the worst forms of animal exploitation quickly and effectively.”

People are invited to nominate travel businesses and organisations who they believe are working to improve the welfare and protection of animals through their tourism operations.

Nominations to be made at before Friday, June 20, 2014.

The World Responsible Tourism Awards will be presented to a public audience at the World Travel Market in London in November 2014.


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