Winner: World Animal Protection
As well as changing its name from the World Society for the Protection of Animals to World Animal Protection, this eminent UK based charity has also upgraded its remit of late. Having spent the last 50 years campaigning and, in many cases, winning, to protect both wild and domestic animals worldwide from mass culling, the horrors of so called entertainment such as bear baiting, or the damage caused to marine life from discarded fishing gear, it is now hitting the tourism industry directly. Through its Compassionate Travel campaign it is reaching out to international bodies to put a stop to the unnecessary use of wild animals in tourism.
The irony of using wild animals in tourism is that most people who pay to see them on holiday are, actually, animal lovers. Although most of them don't understand what the animals have been put through in order to 'perform', others simply turn a blind eye. World Animal Protection realises that protests and boycotts, lobbying and lecturing are not the only ways to create change in this area. Although they do an excellent job at this level too, having successfully moved the United Nations to include animal welfare in resolutions for the first time in 2013, a victory that will lead to policy change worldwide. In tourism, however, they are working to re-educate tour operators that buy trips to ride elephants, cheer on bullfights and swim with dolphins, as well as also communicating directly with consumers through campaigns and petitions. And these guys are well qualified to teach and outreach, having been successful in bringing the now, thankfully, passé bear dancing to an end in India, Turkey and Greece.
With plans to go global in the near future, World Animal Protection has focused its work in Australia and The Netherlands to date collaborating with, in particular, leading responsible tourism company Intrepid Travel as a leading partner. Together they have made a good team to present the case for tourism that is free from animal cruelty. Consequently, fifteen Dutch operators, including TUI Netherlands, have stopped elephant rides and visits to elephant shows on all their trips.
If you are travelling abroad this year, and want to know more about the animal welfare in places you love to visit, take time out to read World Animal Protection's highly informative and free to download Animal Friendly Holiday guide on their website, follow their campaigns on social media and spread the word about not eating wild animals in restaurants, not having your photograph taken with drugged wild animals, and never petting something that is meant to be in the wild. These are just starters on the large menu of ways in which you can help this now award-winning organisation to keep winning over the people who can really create change, and to show that we can all be compassionate in travel.