Expedia plans to conduct a thorough review of the wildlife tourism attractions bookable through its website and remove activities determined to be objectionable.
The Bellevue, Wash. travel giant is also launching a Wildlife Tourism Education Portal, which provides information about animal welfare and what kind of animal interaction might be involved in an activity.
Announcing the moves today, Expedia said it worked with The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, Born Free Foundation, and The Humane Society to develop the initiative.
“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,”
Jen O’Twomney, vice president of Expedia Local Expert, said in a statement, “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.”
A quick search of Expedia’s “Things to Do” section shows wild game tours in South Africa, elephant trekking in Thailand, and dolphin-feeding in Australia. Activities like those may soon come with additional educational information or could be removed altogether.
In recent years, new light has been shed on the negative impact wildlife tourism can have on animals around the world. A new report from World Animal Protection found that thousands of elephants across Southeast Asia are living in brutal conditions because of the growing wildlife tourism industry there. Another study this month revealed a small town in China is a center of ivory smuggling, showing problems with China’s ivory ban.
Expedia isn’t the only Seattle-area company making wildlife welfare a priority; it’s also a key focus of research and philanthropy for Paul Allen’s Vulcan.