02 Mar

Animal welfare: implementing an approach that’s right for your travel business

In ABTA’s latest Holiday Habits research two-thirds (66%) of people said that they have concerns about the wider impacts of tourism and how animals are treated. Viewing or interacting with animals is popular with holidaymakers as well as an important attraction for local communities. These need to be managed in the right way to safeguard the welfare of animals.

ABTA launched the second edition of its Animal Welfare Guidelines after a comprehensive stakeholder review. The new updates include revised basic welfare requirements and unacceptable behaviours. ABTA’s first edition of its Animal Welfare Guidelines launched in 2013, with the aim of providing guidance for ABTA Member companies and their suppliers throughout the world and helping to raise standards. The revisions to these have been developed through ABTA’s Animal Welfare Working Group and a multi-stakeholder consultation process involving industry experts, scientists, zoologist organisations, associations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from around the world, as part of ABTA’s commitment to raising standards in animal welfare and its role to provide advice to Members.

Building on the extended Five Domains Model of animal welfare, the updated manuals include Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism, Animals in Captive Environments, Elephants in Captive Environments, Wildlife Viewing, Working Animals and Unacceptable Practices. The Dolphins in Captive Environments manual is under review and there will be further consultation on the subject, taking into account the latest ongoing developments and research.

In addition to the revised basic welfare requirements, the updates in the guidelines replace previous categorisations with revised unacceptable practices that include tourist contact or feeding of great apes, bears, crocodiles or alligators, elephants without a barrier, orca, sloths as well as contact, feeding and walking with wild cats. New guidance sections on ‘Food and animal welfare’, ‘Management of stray animals’ and ‘Developing an animal welfare approach’ have also been added.

ABTA encourages travel companies to either not offer, or move away from, unacceptable practices. ABTA is very aware that no longer selling an attraction doesn’t mean animal welfare issues go away. Working with suppliers to transition away from unacceptable practices can take time.   

ABTA supports Members to implement animal welfare approaches that are right for their business. Many ABTA Members have animal welfare policies based on the guidelines, which shapes what they sell and how they work with their suppliers, such as including animal welfare requirements as part of supplier contracts and or carrying out independent audits. 

A successful approach requires:

  • Developing the policy and strategy
  • Understanding your product
  • Working with suppliers
  • Engaging staff across your business – including senior leadership, marketing, sales and product teams.  

On 12 March 2020, ABTA will hold its annual Animal Welfare in Tourism Training. The course will provide practical guidance on how to improve animal welfare standards across your organisation to ensure that you meet your customer’s expectations and protect your business’ reputation.

To find out more, download an agenda and book your place on ABTA’s Animal Welfare in Tourism Training, please visit abta.com/abtaevents