ABTA today launches the industry’s first ever Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism. The guidelines have been produced by ABTA working in partnership with the Born Free Foundation and have been further developed through a consultation process with industry experts, ABTA Members, scientists, zoologist organisations, associations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from around the world. They aim to tackle bad practice and improve animal welfare standards throughout all relevant sectors of the tourism industry.
The Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism consolidate an abundance of existing guidance and set a benchmark for minimum requirements in animal welfare for the tourism and animal attractions industries globally. Their aim is to encourage these businesses to achieve good standards in animal protection and welfare and ensure customers have positive experiences when visiting animal attractions. ABTA expects them to be of particular use for Members offering animal attractions in countries where requirements for animal welfare are not well documented and developed.
The guidelines will initially be used by a group of ABTA tour operator Members: TUI Travel, Thomas Cook, Virgin Holidays and Cosmos. These tour operators have committed to using the guidelines to assess their supply chains and to ensure that the attractions that they offer meet the minimum requirements. ABTA will also send the guidelines to destination governments and tourist boards.
Nikki White, Head of Destinations and Sustainability, ABTA said: “Animal attractions and experiences are a common part of holidays and are generally very popular with holidaymakers. Yet research and experience demonstrate that consumers want to be assured of good welfare standards in animal attractions. There are currently no international animal welfare standards so our Members asked for our help in developing a set of guidelines that could help them assess which attractions to work with.”
“Many animal attractions already adhere to very high standards but standards can vary hugely from country to country. While we recognise that change will not happen overnight, we believe the guidelines are an exciting and innovative first step towards improving animal welfare standards and experiences for holidaymakers.”
Will Travers OBE, CEO of the Born Free Foundation, said: “Concerned members of the public contact us in their thousands, distressed about what they often witness while on holiday. Now we have ABTA’s Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism and the weight of the UK travel industry to promote best practice, encourage higher standards in animal care and help phase-out some of the worst forms of animal exploitation quickly and effectively. I hope they will be adopted internationally.”
As well as the global guidelines for animal welfare, ABTA has developed specific guidance for common types of attraction and situations.