Simply put, poor animal welfare has no place in sustainable tourism efforts
Last Thursday I was invited to speak at the yearly conference of the Dutch Association for Sustainable Tourism about animal welfare and conservation. A welcome opportunity to give voice to millions of animals around the world that are exploited to entertain tourists, or killed to end up as holiday souvenirs.
The conference, hosted by the Dutch Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators, included representatives of the travel industry, government, inter- and non-governmental organizations, and education.
Like so many other businesses, the travel industry needs to build a sustainable future. This future includes the recognition of the needs of animals and ecosystems in destination countries.
Animal attractions are amongst the top things-to-do for millions of people whilst on holidays. The attractions range from wildlife safaris and whale watching tours to zoo and dolphinaria visits.
For some, a holiday is not complete without taking home a souvenir made of snake skin, ivory, or a tortoise shell. Some tourists even seize the opportunity to eat something exotic like a whale steak.
An animal friendly holiday is not just in the interest of the animals involved, but also for the industry itself; it should be paramount.
In the UK a survey done by SPANA discovered that 52% of consumers advised that seeing an animal mistreated abroad would put them off visiting a destination again.
At the event it was decided that the conference was just a starting point towards implementing animal welfare into the industries sustainable strategy. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) was requested to advise in this.
It is as simple as this: from a sustainability standpoint - poor animal welfare is simply unacceptable, and IFAW helps in building the animal welfare movement!