press release
Published: 27 September 2020

The ranking of wildlife-friendly travel companies

Airbnb, Tripadvisor, Expedia and other world leading travel companies have been ranked for their commitment to animal welfare in a report produced for World Animal Protection.

The report, Tracking the Travel Industry looks at each company’s offers, the information they provide for customers and their public commitments to animal welfare and shows which companies are winning for wildlife, such as Airbnb, that scored the highest.

Elephant rides, tiger cubs used as props for selfies, dolphins used as surf boards and other circus-style performances, have all been big business for travel companies, allowing them to rake in profits from unsuspecting tourists, unaware of the cruelty happening behind the scenes. But for the wild animals exploited in these demeaning activities – they live a life sentence of misery and suffering, snatched from the wild or often bred in captivity in unacceptable conditions and separated from their mothers too soon.

The research team, headed by Prof Xavier Font and including alumni Frankie Dewar, has independently analysed the public commitments travel companies have and haven’t made, and ranked them in order. World Animal Protection is using the findings to raise awareness amongst consumers of the practices of different leading companies, and to work with the industry to improve their practices, encouraging the travel industry to seize this opportunity and come back stronger, more resilient and ethical by protecting wild animals instead of harming them after covid-19.

Companies assessed were: Airbnb, AttractionTickets.com, Booking.com, DER Touristik, Expedia, Flight Centre, GetYourGuide, Klook, Musement, The Travel Corporation, Tripadvisor, TUI.co.uk, Trip.com and Viator.

Airbnb is the highest ranked by scoring full points when it comes to prohibiting performances, fights and races for all wild animals.

The company also scored highly due to defining a clear scope for their policy, explicitly making the policy applicable to all suppliers, products and brands.

Airbnb worked closely with us on their animal welfare policy to ensure it was developed to the highest standards. The Travel Corporation, Tripadvisor, Booking.com and Viator, also scored highly. However, major companies such as Expedia, Flight Centre and AttractionTickets.com have significant improvements to make, with Expedia ranking as ‘poor’ and the other two ranking as ‘very poor’.

GetYourGuide, Klook and Musement are ‘failing’ and at the bottom of the ranking and will be left behind by more progressive companies if they don’t increase their commitment to welfare.

Companies were scored across four key areas:

  1. Commitment: Availability and quality of published animal welfare policies and how applicable they are to all their brands.
  2. Targets and performance: Availability and scope of published time bound targets and reports on progress towards meeting animal welfare commitments.
  3. Changing industry supply: Availability and quality of engagement with suppliers and the overall industry, to implement wildlife-friendly changes.
  4. Changing consumer demand: Availability and quality of educational animal welfare content and tools to empower consumers to make wildlife-friendly travel choices.

The full report can be found at on the World Animal Protection website.

This research builds on previous work done by the University of Surrey on behalf of World Animal Protection that showed how 62 travel associations largely do not provide sustainability or animal welfare training to their members, and almost none require minimum performance requirements in order to be a member. 

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