I have been writing about ethical and responsible wildlife tourism for many years now to raise awareness about the many conservation issues involved in the industry and to help travellers avoid unethical and abusive wildlife tourism operators. But it is time to take that next step and not just write about the issues, but to actually help to make a physical change in the industry too. This is why Bemused Backpacker is proud to announce our new service, the Wildlife Tourism Consultation and Audit, in partnership with Global Spirit!
Global Spirit: Animals In Tourism ltd is the only company to specialise in providing expert animal welfare assessment and audits for wildlife tourism businesses. Using expert, qualified staff they offer specialist assessment and independent, unbiased audit services for all wildlife tourism operators and industries as well as welfare standard improvement projects to support them in making positive changes and complying with international standards on animal welfare.
Bemused Backpacker’s role is to provide specialist travel industry input to this consultation process, document the changes at each step to ensure full transparency and to share with the world the fact that these industries are improving and should be supported in that undertaking by travellers who want to see genuine change in the industry.
Our aim is to raise animal welfare standards across the entire travel and tourism industry, and showcase those operators that are reaching for and exceeding their obligations toward being responsible and ethical wildlife operators.
The positive impact of travel in the wildlife tourism industry.
It is no secret that there are plenty of wildlife tourism operators out there that are exploitative and abusive, there are many practices that are just outright wrong and there is no excuse for, and I have led for the boycott and shut down of many of these facilities and practices myself in the past such as the infamous Tiger Temple in Thailand for example. They have no interest in animal welfare and there is no doubt that these facilities should not exist.
It is also important to remember that there are plenty of amazing wildlife tourism operators out there who are doing it right and who do put the animals welfare first, and those should obviously be lauded.
But it is the middle ground where we have the biggest chance to make a huge difference. That grey area where wildlife tourism operators want to do their best and look after the animals but maybe they don’t know how, maybe it is a lack of education or a reluctance to shed old practices, maybe they simply don’t have the resources. Maybe they have taken a lot of steps to improve animal welfare but aren’t quite getting it right for a whole variety of reasons.
This is where the rigorous audit process pioneered by Global Spirit comes in. The audit process will provide that education, it will provide the advice, information and practical steps needed for the effective application of industry standards in wildlife tourism.
And this, just as importantly, is where travellers can make a difference too. As much as many operators need to improve and are taking steps to do so, they need to be shown that there is value in that process. It isn’t as simple as just boycotting the bad places and going to the ‘responsible’ animal tourism operators. It is about supporting those operators who are trying to improve but need the resources to do so, it is about showing wildlife tourism operators around the world that upholding the principles of best practice when it comes to animal welfare and investing in the care and conservation of the animals they rely on is going to be worthwhile and profitable for them in the long run.
Creating positive change.
Together we hope to increase engagement in genuinely ethical and responsible wildlife tourism, offering greater opportunity for the travel and tourism industry to have a positive impact on animal welfare and conservation and encourage all wildlife attractions and operators to work towards implementing improved practices.
And we hope that you – as travellers – will support us in making those changes by supporting those wildlife and animal tourism providers who are making the effort to do better, who are making positive steps toward caring for the animals their industry relies on.
Together we are looking forward to supporting the wildlife tourism industry along a clear path to change, and showing the world the true positive impact that travel can have.
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