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Elephants and tourism - right or wrong?

By Sarah Bareham

World's first global guide to elephants in tourism released.

 

Should travellers boycott elephant trekking? Is it right for elephants to play football for tourists' amusement? The world's first online guide to elephants in tourism by responsibletravel.com allows travellers to make thoughtful and informed decisions.

In response to the growing scrutiny around elephant welfare in the tourism industry, leading ethical online travel agent responsibletravel.com has today released a one-of-a-kind guide: Elephants in tourism – right or wrong? (http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/elephant-conservation/travel-guide) The result of a long consultation process with NGOs, responsibletravel.com member tour operators and local experts, the guide presents a collective record of global thinking and offers independent, objective views of the facts.

Justin Francis, Managing Director at responsibletravel.com explains how the guide has led to changes in the company's holiday collection:

"We hope this guide will become a leading resource for travellers concerned about the ethics of visiting elephant sanctuaries and taking part in elephant rides around the world.

"For us, it has resulted in the decision to no longer promote elephant riding trips on responsibletravel.com, or any trip which includes the opportunity to see trained elephants perform for the public.

"We believe endangered elephants will continue to be taken from the wild as long as tourist demand for such activities remains in place, and chains and unethical training methods will continue to be used to control the elephants around tourists.

"I very much hope to see a gradual process of change in the way we as travellers approach elephant-related tourism".

Elephant treks will be promoted by responsibletravel.com in exceptional cases where there is a wider conservational benefit to other endangered species such as rhinos and tigers.

For travellers considering a holiday itinerary involving elephants, the guide includes:

- Alternatives to viewing captive elephants, plus an interactive map of where to see elephants in the wild
- 'Photos we hate' – a gallery of shocking elephants photos
- The differences between an elephant park, camp, sanctuary and orphanage
- The history of captive elephants in Asia
- Facts on African and Asian elephants
- How elephants can be vital for conservation of other endangered species
- Opinions on whether it is possible to move forward into a future without elephant trekking/performing

Find out more at: http://www.responsibletravel.com/holidays/elephant-conservation/travel-guide