Small-group adventure operator G Adventures has introduced its first animal welfare policy, developed in consultation with World Animal Protection, the Jane Goodall Institute, and the World Cetacean Alliance.
The company’s new policy, which supersedes the animal welfare guidelines introduced in 2015, comes on the back of greater attention on such concerns in the travel industry. Last week, Airbnb added ethical animal experiences to its tour line-up while TripAdvisor also announced its decision to end ticket sales to attractions that breed captive marine animals, showing that global travel businesses are now placing a greater emphasis on animal welfare.
Alongside the new policy, G Adventures has launched a video entitled ‘Wildlife has the right to a wild life’ to educate people to interact with wildlife in a way that does not harm animals or put people, both locals and travellers, in danger.
The video reminds viewers about basic animal welfare such as not taking pictures with wild animals that may have been sedated, or riding elephants which will have been harmed to carry humans, said the company.
It also introduces the strengthened aspects of the policy, such as not feeding animals or having any physical contact with them, and addresses the consumption of endangered species by travellers.
World Animal Protection’s campaign manager Melissa Matlow said that they have “advised G Adventures on their animal welfare policy and to help them identify harmful tourist activities to ensure no animals are mistreated” and that the companies will continue working together “to end animal cruelty and keep wildlife in the wild where they belong”.
Jamie Sweeting, vice president of social enterprise and responsible travel, G Adventures, says the policy replaces the company’s existing animal welfare guidelines, and acknowledges the operator is taking things to the next level across the business.
“With the launch of the new policy, we’re actively educating travellers and holding our staff around the world accountable for reporting issues via a new task force we have set up internally. The animal welfare policy will be built into our traveller conduct policy, and into our staff contracts. We want people to not just abide by the policy, but to monitor the behaviours of others and alert us when they see anyone who might be causing, often unintentionally, harm to the animals we share our planet with,” said Sweeting.
The new policy is one of G Adventures’ many “G for Good” commitments, and builds on the Global Welfare Guidance for Animals In Tourism which were announced in 2015 by ABTA UK, and based around the Five Freedoms – freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, pain, freedom from injury or disease, freedom to express normal behaviour and being free of fear and distress. G Adventures is also feeding into the updating and revision of the ABTA Guidance which will launch later this year.