Main image:Dolphins observed swimming Wild and Free. © WCA Partner Divine Dolphin
Thomas Cook drops SeaWorld and Loro Parque
WCA would like to congratulate Thomas Cook on its announcement today to withdraw from selling tickets to SeaWorld, USA, and Loro Parque, Spain. Both parks have come under severe criticism for their treatment of killer whales (orcas), since they were exposed in the movie BlackFish in 2013.
Said WCA CEO Dylan Walker: “We have been consulting with Thomas Cook on this issue in recent months and are delighted with the stance they have taken. We are also pleased to say that Thomas Cook and WCA are now working together to develop responsible whale and dolphin watching activities across Thomas Cook’s destinations – providing a responsible alternative for holidaymakers with a desire to see these incredible animals.”
Thomas Cook are again taking a leading role on this issue. We hope that other tour operators selling tickets to captive dolphin shows will follow suit.”
Thomas Cook seeks a wild alternative
Thomas Cook’s destinations include some of the best wild whale and dolphin watching locations in the world. Now, Thomas Cook and the World Cetacean Alliance are analysing the potential for providing more of these experiences to Thomas Cook customers. Said WCA Responsible Whale Watching Project Manager Sophie Lewis; “We are delighted to be working with Thomas Cook to identify responsible and sustainable whale and dolphin watching experiences in the wild. This is an opportunity for Thomas Cook to offer its customers high quality personalized holiday products that increase the customer experience. For some people, seeing whales and dolphins in the wild can be life changing!”
Changing attitudes towards whales and dolphins
Five years ago, some of the world’s largest tour operators selling tickets to whale and dolphin shows were ill prepared for the sudden increase in awareness of the welfare concerns for cetaceans in captivity. The stakes were high, as commission from marine parks and aquariums was, and remains, significant for many tour operators. Today the landscape has changed dramatically, and while progress may seem slow, there is an acceptance that change is necessary across the travel industry. Thomas Cook’s statement today is an important milestone for a company which is successfully repositioning itself in the travel market. It identifies Thomas Cook as being relevant to younger travellers, and keen to move towards a more positive narrative for its animal experiences.
Want to see a whale or dolphin? Go wild
The World Cetacean Alliance is the leading authority on responsible whale and dolphin watching in the wild and advocates for an end to the keeping of cetaceans in captivity for entertainment. We have developed global guidance for best practice whale watching and we work with tour operators, governments and international institutions to develop responsible and sustainable whale watching both for individual companies and for destinations. WCA accredits responsible whale and dolphin watching businesses and encourages larger tour operators supplying those businesses to work exclusively with accredited tours. The result is the best possible experience for tourists and whales and dolphins. Thomas Cook, along with Virgin Holidays and Club Med, are leading the way by working with the World Cetacean Alliance to develop these practices across their supply chains. We would like to encourage other tour operators to follow, to bring an end to the keeping of cetaceans in captivity, and help develop sustainable whale and dolphin watching tourism worldwide.