Finding solutions for animal welfare issues in tourism together with students

Wildlife tourism on the rise, as tourists are more and more seeking meaningful and intense experiences during their holidays. For several countries wildlife tourism is an important source of income, for instance, Costa Rica, South Africa, and Kenya, while for others wildlife tourism is an important part of the tourism supply. In wildlife tourism, animal welfare is often violated to offer tourists more direct experiences. Animals welfare is also an issue for domesticated animals which are used in tourism as a mode of transport, for example, donkeys in Greece and Morocco, or as part of a tourist attraction, for example, horse and carriage in Vienna.

Exploitation of animals by the tourism industry

While some tourism companies take good care of animal welfare during excursions, there are also many animals that are exploited by the tourism industry. For this reason, the British ABTA and Dutch ANVR have set up guidelines for animal welfare for tour operators. These guidelines now have to be implemented by tour operators, and other stakeholders.

Finding balance

This is not so easy as it may sound, as solutions have to be found for local people who need alternative sources of income. For instance, if riding elephants is no longer offered by tour operators, how could local people make enough money to support their families? How can the care for their elephants continue to be financed? In general, how can a tour operator identify situations where animal welfare is at stake, and what can tour operators do about this?

Designing solutions for tourism destinations and tour operators

In November, the student conference on animal welfare in tourism is taking place at NHL Stenden. Students of Noorderpoort Groningen and NHL Stenden will have an opportunity to attend a presentation with guest speakers Simone Eckhardt, Melvin Mak, and Gerben Hardeman. During the workshops lead by Albert Postma, Bernadett Papp, Stefan Hartman and Jasper Heslinga with the theme: “Tourism, Blessing or Curse”, students will work on management solutions for tourism destinations and tour operators.