Study: Young trav­el­ers friendly to an­i­mals

China Daily - - CHINA - By HE QI in Shang­hai heqi@chi­

Con­sumers in China are be­com­ing more aware of an­i­mal-friendly tourist ac­tiv­i­ties, and tour com­pa­nies are chang­ing their of­fer­ings to meet their ex­pec­ta­tions, ac­cord­ing to new re­search cited by World An­i­mal Pro­tec­tion on Wed­nes­day.

The re­search, car­ried out by CTR Mar­ket Re­search, tar­geted peo­ple born be­tween 1985 and 2000 and eval­u­ated their at­ti­tudes to­ward an­i­mal friendly tourism. It found that more than 85 per­cent of the re­spon­dents sur­veyed ob­jected to tourism ac­tiv­i­ties that harmed or abused an­i­mals.

“The mar­ket sig­nals are ap­par­ent. An­i­mal-friendly tourism has be­come a pre­ferred form of tourist ac­tiv­ity for young con­sumers, both in terms of cur­rent par­tic­i­pa­tion and will­ing­ness to par­tic­i­pate in the future,” said Zhao Zhonghua, di­rec­tor of World An­i­mal Pro­tec­tion China, an in­ter­na­tional non­profit an­i­mal wel­fare or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Travel com­pa­nies should seize this op­por­tu­nity to trans­form and up­grade an­i­mal-re­lated tourism prod­ucts to meet mar­ket de­mand,” Zhao said.

The re­port said, for ex­am­ple, that in South­east Asia there are more than 3,000 cap­tive ele­phants be­ing ex­ploited for tourism and recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties. More than three­fourths of them are housed in harsh en­vi­ron­ments, re­strained with chains, sep­a­rated from their moth­ers and forced to un­dergo bru­tal train­ing.

In Thai­land, for ex­am­ple, the num­ber of ele­phants used for recre­ational tourism in­creased from 1,688 to 2,198 from 2010 to 2016, and 38 cases of in­jured ele­phants — 17 re­sult­ing in death — were re­ported at the same time.

“The pos­i­tive thing is that more peo­ple have the sense to pro­tect an­i­mals and are will­ing to par­tic­i­pate in an­i­mal friendly tourism ac­tiv­i­ties,” Zhao said.

Al­though re­spon­dents showed higher recog­ni­tion of an­i­mal-friendly tourism, the re­port also showed room for im­prove­ment in aware­ness of whether spe­cific ac­tiv­i­ties harm an­i­mals.

For ex­am­ple, 42.5 per­cent of re­spon­dents did not re­al­ize that watch­ing an­i­mal per­for­mances and pay­ing to have pho­tos taken can be abu­sive.

Liu Shang, 27, a Shang­hai res­i­dent who claimed to have “itchy feet”, said he would ride an ele­phant if it’s in­cluded in the travel pack­age, but he wouldn’t hold a grudge if such a ser­vice were not avail­able, es­pe­cially once its neg­a­tive im­pact was known.

“Hon­estly, I didn’t know that rid­ing an ele­phant could cause so much neg­a­tive in­flu­ence on wildlife,” Liu said. “Now that I know, I will only par­tic­i­pate in ac­tiv­i­ties that are an­i­mal-friendly.”

More than 190 tourism com­pa­nies around the world have made a pub­lic com­mit­ment not to pro­vide ele­phant rides or other wildlife per­for­mances, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Caissa Touris­tic, FXtrip and Zanadu are the first three na­tional tourism com­pa­nies in China to have made the com­mit­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Ge Mu, as­sis­tant pres­i­dent of Caissa Touris­tic, the com­pany has called off ac­tiv­i­ties such as ele­phant rides. In­stead, it is now pro­vid­ing an­i­mal-friendly pro­grams such as help­ing a baby ele­phant take a shower or us­ing ele­phant fe­ces to make re­cy­cled pa­per to en­cour­age and cul­ti­vate en­vi­ron­men­tal and an­i­mal pro­tec­tion aware­ness.

“Can­cel­ing the re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties had no ob­vi­ous im­pact on our rev­enue,” Ge said.

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