The World Cetacean Alliance welcomes the announcement today by Virgin Holidays’ setting out a long term vision “for a future in which tourism embraces the complex social and physical needs of cetaceans and their habitats.”
Virgin Holidays’ have today detailed a new 5-point plan as follows:
1. Virgin Holidays will not sign up any new attractions that features captive whales and dolphins for theatrical shows, contact sessions (such as ‘swim-with’ programmes) or other entertainment purposes;
2. Virgin Holidays will work closely with existing partners to encourage evolution of their product offering to reflect changing consumer tastes, and ensure compliance with the Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism – developed by our trade association, ABTA, together with The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, The International Zoo Veterinary Group and respected NGOs;
3. Virgin Holidays will support the creation of coastal sanctuaries for whales and dolphins and promote conservation in their natural habitats through an annual donation supporting Virgin Holiday’s long term vision for captive cetaceans in tourism
4. Virgin Holidays will offer customers more choice in the regions in which we operate, such as promoting responsible wild whale and dolphin watching and sanctuary-based experiences (when these become available);
5. Virgin Holidays will support international co-operation to end the capture of wild cetaceans, and discourage the building of new attractions, where cetaceans will be used for theatrical, contact or other entertainment purposes.
In 2014, the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) and its partners, including the Born Free Foundation, Orca Research Trust, and Free Morgan Foundation, along with experts from Animal Welfare Institute, and Whale and Dolphin Conservation; were involved in a multi-stakeholder process to discuss concerns over the keeping of cetaceans in captivity.
That led to Virgin securing a pledge from the companies with which they work to no longer take whales and dolphins from the wild. It represented a significant step forward in terms of the future for captive whales, dolphins and porpoises. We therefore welcome today’s announcement as a defining moment in our efforts to secure better lives for these highly intelligent mammals.
Said Jean Michael Cousteau, Honorary President of the WCA: “Virgin Holidays announcement clearly sets out its vision for the future, seeks a collaborative approach, and identifies mechanisms to solve the many challenges facing whales and dolphins in tourism today. Too often this issue has lacked a catalyst for change from within the tourism sector. I believe that all whales and dolphins deserve the chance to feel the ocean, interact in the natural environment, and utilize their extraordinary sense of sound in ways they could never do in captivity. Today’s announcement is a very important milestone in our journey towards that goal.”
WCA Honorary President Jean-Michel Cousteau discusses the Virgin announcement here:
The World Cetacean Alliance endorses Virgin’s announcement today and is committed to working with Virgin and other stakeholders in the travel industry to achieve it. Said CEO Dylan Walker, “We believe in tourism as a huge force for good, with the potential to protect whales and dolphins and their habitats for people to enjoy long into the future. This statement brings us an important step closer to that reality.”