TripAdvisor has announced they will be severing commercial relationships with dolphin parks that breed or import captive whales or dolphins.
The popular online travel company is the world’s largest and serves 490 million people a month with its listings and sales of accomodation and tourist services.
“Any commercial facility that either breeds or imports cetaceans for public display will be banned from sale on TripAdvisor and Viator,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“The decision follows an extensive consultation process with a range of experts, including marine biologists, zoologists and conservationists, and considered the scientific evidence and arguments presented from all sides.
“It continues TripAdvisor’s commitment to improving the welfare of animals globally, particularly animals in tourism.”
TripAdvisor’s Dermot Halpin said dolphins don’t thrive in captivity and he wants to see them living “free and wild”.
“We believe the current generation of whales and dolphins in captivity should be the last, and we look forward to seeing this position adopted more widely throughout the travel industry,” he said.
New Zealand based marine biologist Dr Ingrid Visser told Yahoo News Australia that the policy should be highly commended.
“This will be a shake up for the travel industry,” she said.
“TripAdvisor is one of the largest travel related entities.
“The fact that they’re making this statement is shaking the tree and the bad apples are going to fall and the good apples will continue to do the right thing morally, ethically and welfare-wise.”
Ben Pearson from World Animal Protection said the changes would have local implications.
“This really puts additional pressure on Australian travel companies and airlines to stop selling tickets to dolphin parks on the Gold Coast,” he said.
“Another big travel company has moved, following so closely on from Virgin Holidays and British Airways.
“That a company as large as TripAdvisor can recognise that change is needed, and yet Australian travel companies continue to sell tickets to Sea World is extremely disappointing.”
Consumers will still be able to access online listings of dolphin and whale parks, and the move will not affect seaside sanctuaries that provide care for existing captive dolphin populations.
Yahoo News Australia has contacted Sea World Australia for comment.
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