Dutch travel industry Dutch Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (ANVR) lauded as most animal-friendly

The Dutch ANVR is the most animal-friendly travel industry organization in the world, according to research by the University of Surrey (UK), commissioned by animal protection organization World Animal Protection (formerly WSPA). This is in contrast to most other international travel industry organizations: only 3 of the 62 umbrella organizations studied have guidelines for animal welfare.

The vast majority of international industry organizations do nothing to prevent animal-unfriendly practices in tourism. 62 sector organizations were scrutinized for the investigation. Only 21 of them had a web page on sustainable tourism. Of these, only six organizations communicated about animal welfare. Alarming is the fact that 16 umbrella organizations on various channels show photos of wild animals as a tourist attraction – in many cases in direct contact with tourists.

Animal welfare guidelines
The Dutch ANVR is, in addition to the British ABTA and international GSTC, one of only three organizations that have substantive animal welfare guidelines and criteria. The research showed that there is still room for improvement in all three. For example, it appears that ABTA’s guidelines are seen as the applicable industry standard, but at the same time they contain inconsistencies and vague wording. This creates room for different interpretations and parts are disputed. ANVR is the only organization that monitors members on compliance with guidelines.

Karin Bilo, campaign manager at World Animal Protection: “It is great that the Dutch travel industry is at the forefront of animal welfare. The ANVR, together with its members, put animal-friendly tourism on the map. That does not mean that we can lean back; there is room for improvement. For example, the ANVR guidelines give members the opportunity to still offer dolphin shows because this cruel attraction is not explicitly mentioned as unacceptable. ‘

‘It is disappointing that most travel industry organizations around the world still do not pay any attention to animal welfare. The use of wildlife for tourist entertainment, such as elephant rides and shows where wild animals have to come into direct contact with tourists or tricks, must be unacceptable. We advocate that others follow the pragmatic example of the ANVR. ‘

Frank Oostdam, director of ANVR, is proud of the recognition of leader in the field of animal welfare. ‘Pet-friendly holidays are part of our years of joint efforts for Better Holidays; the responsible tourism program of the travel sector. It strengthens our conviction that responsible, including animal-friendly, holidays, are better and more fun for people, nature and animals and the total holiday experience. We are on the right track, but there are still many challenges. ‘

Abuse of wild animals
There is a growing movement that thinks that wild animals should not be misused for tourist entertainment. More than 1.6 million people signed a World Animal Protection promise to travel in an animal-friendly way and more than 200 travel organizations have already stopped selling tickets and promoting camps where elephant rides or shows are being offered. A powerful signal that emphasizes that cruel attractions with wild animals, such as elephant rides, dolphin shows and selfies with tigers, belong in the past.