TORONTO, Sept. 27, 2018 /CNW/ - World Tourism Day, celebrated on September 27 around the world, shines a light on the social, cultural, political, environmental and economic impact of this trillion-dollar industry. And as young travellers become increasingly aware of these impacts, it is influencing their travel choices for the better.
Riding elephants, swimming with dolphins and taking selfies with wild animals, including tigers and sloths are all tourist activities that cause harm to animals. Yet most tourists have been taking part without knowing the effect it has on animals or ecosystems. These animals often suffer abuse both mentally and physically to make interactions with tourists possible. Evidence shows though that once tourists understand the cruelty involved, they will make a different decision.
For example, a 2017 KANTAR global poll shows a significant drop of 9% (to 44%) in the number of people who find elephant riding acceptable compared to just three years ago. The poll also shows that more than 80% of tourists would prefer to see animals in their natural environment, proving animal-friendly tourism is on the rise. The trend is even more pronounced among young, millennial (aged 18-35) travellers.
Jennifer Yellin, Senior Vice President at Northstar, a research firm that recently conducted a series of traveller focus groups for World Animal Protection observes, "There is a relationship between age and travel activity choice when it comes to animal welfare. For example, people under 35 are more aware of animal cruelty issues. This age segment, more so than older travellers, voice greater interest in seeing animals in their natural habitats rather than forced interactions like swimming with dolphins."
"It's very encouraging to know that young travellers are increasingly considering the wellbeing of animals in their plans. We know that vacationers don't want to harm wildlife, in fact polling shows that most people participate in harmful wildlife attractions because they like animals. This movement away from captive wildlife attractions is about education and working with travel companies to improve policies," says Josey Kitson, Executive Director of World Animal Protection Canada.
World Animal Protection is working with some the biggest names in travel including the Travel Corporation (and their brands like Contiki and Trafalgar), G Adventures, Intrepid, and World Expeditions. More than 200 travel companies have signed on to their elephant-friendly pledge.
"Unlike previous generations, millennials, and in particular Gen Z or those born after 1995, are more socially, ecologically, and empathetically aware. They have been raised to frequently call out inhumane treatment of wildlife. As the original travel brand offering epic global adventures exclusively for 18 to 35-year-old's, we feel that it is our duty to educate young Canadians in an effort to support the protection and rehabilitation of wild and marine life and facilitate ethical and educational animal experiences in the destinations we visit through the Contiki Cares powered by TreadRight initiative that includes our work with Shark Savers, The Sea Turtle Conservancy and Wildlife SOS – India. Contiki is proud to join with World Animal Protection on World Tourism Day, not simply to ensure that we are doing our part to ensure that this beautiful planet can continue to provide us with the unforgettable experiences, but to make travel matter," says Sheralyn Berry, President of Contiki Canada.
However, there is still work that needs to be done when it comes to raising awareness of ethical travel. For instance, the global poll from KANTAR shows that even though the number of people who thought swimming with dolphins was not acceptable dropped by 8%, more than half still think it is acceptable. And the same poll shows that although there were some increases on countries that would boycott tour operators promoting the use of wild animals in entertainment, countries such as China and India's response showed a high percentage would still go anyway.
"In 2014 G Adventures removed all harmful animal activities from tours including elephant riding, and since has had a strict animal welfare policy. At first there was push back from travellers who wanted a specific experience and couldn't get it, and staff had to understand and explain why we were no longer offering such activities, but over time they have come to appreciate our stance. G Adventures continues to participate in World Animal Protection's coalition on ethical wildlife tourism and is proud of our approach to assessing all potential tour experiences against comprehensive animal welfare criteria" adds Jamie Sweeting, G Adventures Vice President of Social Enterprise and Responsible Travel
Travellers can learn more about ethical tourism by taking a pledge to be an animal friendly tourist and as a thank you World Animal Protection will provide them with an animal friendly pocket guide. This guide will help people make informed and compassionate travel decisions to ensure no animals are harmed on their trips.
About World Animal Protection:
World Animal Protection, formerly known as the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), is active in more than 50 countries. From our offices around the world, we work with businesses, governments, local partners and animal welfare organizations to find practical ways to prevent animal suffering worldwide. www.worldanimalprotection.ca
KANTAR global research on consumer attitudes:
The study was commissioned by World Animal Protection and conducted by KANTAR PUBLIC via TNS online omnibus from 21–26 August 2014 and 12–16 January 2017. Sample 12,381 across 12 countries. A total of 1,050 Canadians were surveyed. Data was weighted to be representative by age, gender and region within country.
SOURCE World Animal Protection
For further information: interviews, Broll or images please contact Nina Devries, Media Manager for World Animal Protection Canada at [email protected] or 416 369 0044 ext.100