TripAdvisor is to stop selling tickets to whale, dolphin and porpoise tourist attractions.
Any commercial facility that either breeds or imports cetaceans for public display will be banned from sale on TripAdvisor and offshoot Viator.
The travel platform confirmed that it will “no longer sell tickets to, or generate revenue from, any attraction that continues to contribute to the captivity of future generations of cetaceans – whales, dolphins and porpoises.
“Products currently on sale and found to breach the new rules will be removed over the next few months, with the policy in full force by the end of 2019.”
However, the new policy will not apply to seaside sanctuaries that provide care to cetaceans already in captivity.
The ban follows an “extensive consultation process” with experts, including marine biologists, zoologists and conservationists.
It represents an extension of TripAdvisor’s animal welfare policy, first adopted in 2016. The policy already commits to not selling tickets to experiences where travellers come into physical contact with captive wild animals, such as elephant ride and tiger petting experiences.
Animal shows and performances deemed to be demeaning were banned from sale last year.
TripAdvisor experiences and rentals president Demor Halpin said: “The extensive evidence presented to us by the experts was compelling.
“Whales and dolphins do not thrive in limited captive environments, and we hope to see a future where they live as they should – free and in the wild.
“We believe the current generation of whales and dolphins in captivity should be the last, and we look forward to seeing this position adopted more widely throughout the travel industry.”
He added: “Our aim is not only to prevent future generations of whales and dolphins from being raised in captivity, but also to encourage the industry to move towards alternative models, like seaside sanctuaries, that will better provide for the needs of the current captive population.
“Seaside sanctuaries have enormous potential, but they need more backing from the tourism industry.
“As long as facilities with captive whales and dolphins continue to profit from keeping these animals in smaller, cheaper and less natural living environments, then they don’t have enough incentive to adopt serious change. We hope our announcement can help turn the tide.”
The company defines a seaside sanctuary as a natural body of coastal water, such as a bay or a cove, that houses cetaceans in as close to a natural environment as possible while providing protection and oversight from qualified husbandry and veterinary staff.
“Seaside sanctuaries must adhere to a strict no-breeding policy, must not train their animals to perform in any shows or performances for public display, and must prohibit all forms of physical interaction between guests and the animals, including any in-water guest experiences,” according to TripAdvisor policy.