The Expedia Animal Welfare Policy Bans Dolphin Shows — Best Life


Expedia bills itself as a one-stop travel site, where travelers can plan entire vacations and holidays by choosing from a number of different car, flight, hotel, and activity bundles. The marketing has paid off: Expedia Group, which operates a number of travel sites including Expedia, Hotels.com, and Orbitz, was the top travel company in the world by sales in 2020, beating out its competitors by more than $5 billion in revenue, per BizVibe. And with the company still leading the pack as the most powerful travel agency in 2021, it’s clear Expedia is free to make its own rules. With that in mind, the travel company has just announced that it is getting rid of one type of activity for travelers. Read on to find out what you can no longer do when using Expedia.

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Berdyansk, Ukraine - April 1, 2019: Liberty Expedia Holdings website homepage. Liberty Expedia Holdings logo visible on the phone screen, Illustrative Editorial.
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Expedia allows travelers to buy holiday packages of all kinds that include various activities and interactions. But the travel company is barring one type of package now, after updating its animal welfare policy. The company will now “prohibit activities that feature interactions with or performances by dolphins, whales, and other cetaceans,” under the company’s new guidelines.

“We recently adjusted our animal welfare policy. As a result, attractions and activities that involve performances by or interactions with dolphins and other cetaceans will no longer be available on our sites,” Expedia Group tweeted on Nov. 5.

The travel company did note that there were limited exceptions to this new policy. “Seaside sanctuaries that provide captive animals with a permanent seaside living environment are allowed if they are accredited and do not feature interactions or performances,” Expedia states in its guidelines.

San Antonio, Texas - May 19 2020: SeaWorld entry sign with water slide in background
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Expedia’s new policy means the company has stopped selling tickets to SeaWorld alongside other “swim with dolphins” encounters, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The organization says this move comes after five years of meetings and pressure from its campaign and supporters.

“In ‘swim with’ programs, dolphins are confined to barren tanks or makeshift lagoons with no choice but to swim in endless circles. Many die prematurely because of the stressful conditions of captivity,” PETA states on its website.

Katheryn Wise, a campaign manager from the wildlife charity Wild Animal Protection, told The Guardian that her organization has also been pushing travel companies like Expedia to make this change for years. “This is amazing news and something that we have been campaigning for since 2019. We are so pleased that they have listened,” she said. “Travel companies play a huge role in driving captive dolphin entertainment and as one of the largest travel companies in the world we are delighted that Expedia Group are making a stand. It’s time for other travel giants … to do the right thing and follow suit.”

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LONDON- JANUARY, 2020: Virgin Holidays, a travel agency company under the Virgin Group
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Other travel companies have already barred customers from purchasing travel packages with similar activities. In 2019, Virgin Holidays announced that it would officially end sales and promotion of tourism attractions that involve captive whales, dolphins, and other cetaceans, as reported by TravelPulse.

“Many no longer consider whale and dolphin shows and ‘swim withs’ to be appropriate and most would rather enjoy these magnificent creatures in their natural environment,” Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group that heads Virgin Holidays, wrote in a post at the time.

According to PETA, dozens of companies, including Tripadvisor and Southwest Airlines, have also stopped selling tickets to SeaWorld and other marine mammal parks. “Other companies—such as Mastercard and Savings.com—ended ‘swim with dolphins’ promotions long ago after learning about the cruelty inherent in keeping sensitive, intelligent cetaceans captive,” the organization states.

Kyiv, Ukraine - January 24, 2018: Woman using Expedia app on Apple iPhone 8 plus at home for search for airline tickets
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Expedia doesn’t just prohibit captive dolphin shows. The travel company has previously barred packages that include other animal activities as well. This includes not selling activities to venues that host wild animals like exotic pet cafes and traveling zoos, attractions where animals are bred for commercial purposes, visits to venues where products sourced from wild animals are sold, and experiences where wild animals are required to perform in a demeaning or unnatural way for entertainment purposes.

“Travel is a force for good. Expedia Group powers global travel for everyone, everywhere, and helps them do so with respect for the people, animals, and natural environments of our planet,” the company states on its website. “When done responsibly and thoughtfully, activities featuring animals can instill a deeper connection with the natural world, promote conservation, enhance the human experience, and drive interest in the treatment and survival of all animals.”

Expedia told PA Media that its ban against activities that feature interactions with or performances by dolphins, whales, and other cetaceans “will take time to implement and [they] intend to compete the process by early 2022.” The company added in a statement to The Guardian, “We give our providers 30 days to comply with the updated policy or face removal from the site.”

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