This week I was having a conversation with some colleagues who were looking at day trips in Thailand for some down time during an upcoming business trip. The discussion, around visiting the Tiger Temple, quickly turned to the ethical issues of animal tourism.
Animal tourism, and the realisation that many of these so called animal sanctuaries or conservation parks are really exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals has led many travellers to turn away from such tourism. There is an emerging group of travellers, described as Ethical Travellers in a recent study commissioned by Amadeus, that make their travel decisions with ethical issues and beliefs firmly in their hearts and minds.
In my own research following the discussion with my colleagues, and a conversation with a lovely friend of mine who is passionate about animal welfare, I read some awful case studies but also came across some heartening developments within the travel industry when it comes to identifying and boycotting animal cruelty. Intrepid Travel, STA Travel and The Travel Corporation (and it’s Treadright Foundation) are just a few examples of travel wholesalers and travel agencies that are taking this issue seriously. I am sure there are many more likeminded agencies out there.
Needless to say, the decision was firmly taken that the Tiger Temple is not on the list of options for the upcoming trip – perhaps a trip to the River Kwai?