For guests, being able to experience the flora and fauna of a destination is a huge draw. Indeed a recent Booking.com survey found that 81% of global travellers would consider outstanding natural scenery to be a key factor in the destination decision making process. The indigenous creatures of a region have a direct impact on this experience.
One of the key pillars of Booking.com’s commitment to sustainable travel is environmental conservation, where we prioritise careful use of finite natural resources and the preservation of biodiversity through establishing and maintaining ecological processes in travel. Scalable initiatives that will protect the entire ecosystem are an absolute priority, with the protection of animals being one such focus area.
All too often, devastating stories of animal cruelty and neglect are reported in the media and sadly tourism can be a contributor to that cycle - elephant rides, performing dolphins, endless photo opportunities with lions and tigers in captivity. Not only is it a huge ethical obligation, it’s important to guests too: a 2017 survey by ComRes found that 49% of travellers felt that their enjoyment of a holiday would be reduced if they observed animal abuse during their stay, while 71% said that they would be more likely to buy holidays from travel companies that care for animals.
Setting the standard
Whether you have animals at your property or offer trips for your guests such as safaris, visits to sanctuaries or aquarium tours, it is critical that those experiences do not negatively impact the lives of any animal. As an organisation, we have a major responsibility to lead by example on driving sustainable tourism, which is why we launched Animal Welfare Standards across the business.
Earlier this year, Booking Cares partnered with World Animal Protection, an international non-profit animal welfare organisation, to create these standards. Many months of discussion and collaboration led us to developing a set of guiding principles that would ensure the physical and mental well-being of animals impacted by tourism, and protect them from exploitation, neglect and cruelty.
The standards set out a framework of basic freedoms that will ensure the needs of animals under human care are met, and it is our vision that all of our partners globally will respect these Animal Welfare Standards and make a commitment to prioritising animal welfare at all times:
- Freedom from hunger or thirst through ready access to fresh water and an appropriate diet to maintain full health and vigour
- Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment, including shelter and a comfortable resting area
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease by treating animals respectfully, ensuring qualified animal management and access to veterinary care
- Freedom to express normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, an environment resembling the animal’s natural habitat, and allowing for species-specific social behaviour
- Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
There are so many ways that tourists can enjoy and learn about animals while exploring the world, and ensuring this is done in the most responsible way possible is essential. Knowing where to find these opportunities is not always a simple process for guests or our partners, but there are a variety of experiences that we support as part of what you might offer as part of your room rate:
- Visits to animal sanctuaries and shelters whose objectives are in the animals’ best interest
- Visits to zoos and aquariums that are members of an accredited body (e.g. WAZA, EAZA or AIZA) and comply with our standards
- Visits to venues where visitors can observe wild animals in a (semi-) natural environment Responsible eco-tours with a focus on education
- Responsible whale-watching and dolphin-watching tours
- Responsible wildlife safaris – spotting wild animals in their natural habitat
- Rides on or interaction with domesticated animals (e.g. horse riding), so long as providers comply with our standards
By collaborating and making a commitment together to guarantee the welfare of all animals, we can ensure the world’s beauty - including all its incredible creatures - is left for generations of global travellers to experience in the future.
- In July, Booking.com announced its Animal Welfare Standards - a set of guiding principles for all partners, globally, in both accommodations and experiences
- The standards include five basic freedoms that ensure the physical and mental well-being of animals impacted by tourism
- Booking Cares partnered with World Animal Protection, an international non-profit animal welfare organisation, to create the standards
- Booking Cares is the CSR programme for Booking.com, through which the business drives drives sustainable travel innovation through a number of initiatives include the Booking Booster and the Booking Cares Fund