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News 17.07.14

Abta brands agent’s open letter on orca attractions a ‘publicity stunt’

Sophie Griffiths

ABTA HAS hit back after a specialist travel agency published an open letter to the association, criticising its

animal welfare policies in the wake of TTG’s analysis on orca attractions. published

its letter last month, demanding an “open and honest debate” on the issue of whether Abta and the “mainstream British travel industry” should “remain supportive of the keeping and display of captive cetaceans”. In the letter, which was sent

jointly with the World Cetacean Alliance and published on, the agency said it was writing in response to the TTG article [May 2], and said it wanted Abta to address several points that it had made in the piece.

Speaking to TTG, Justin Francis, managing director, said: “We have become thoroughly confused as to what its position is and how it can defend keeping orcas in activity. “It is important to have

this debate in public and to be transparent, and for that reason we decided to publicise this. Abta has signed up to global welfare standards, and we feel that it is contradictory to its position, which appears to be that Abta supports keeping whales and dolphins in confined spaces.” He added: “Abta says it has

inspected SeaWorld. It would be great to know who did the inspection and if we could see the report. And given that next year it will be illegal to keep wild animals in circuses in England, we want to know how Abta can justify sending UK tourists overseas to these marine circuses.”

Abta has come under fire for supporting Orca attractions

However, after being contacted

by TTG, Abta has now hit back. In a statement, the association insisted it takes “the issue of animal welfare seriously” and labelled the letter a “publicity stunt”. “Abta has worked hard to develop

a considered approach to animal welfare within captive animal attractions,” it said. “Abta does not engage in publicity

stunts, particularly those that are designed to raise the profile of


STA stops sales of bull-running festival

STA TRAVEL has banned selling tours to the Pamplona Running of the Bulls festival. The move is part of a wider

investigation carried out by the travel firm into its tours which involve direct or indirect contact with animals. Last month it discontinued the

HAMMING IT UP: A south Wales-based travel agent has come up with a porker of an idea on how best to bring home the, er, bacon – taking her pet micro pig to work. Kelly Dommett brings 18-month-old Dotty into the office at Jetaways most days, insisting she helps to boost business: “People come in just to see her, so it obviously makes people aware that we are here in Pontypool,” she told TTG.

08 17.07.2014

sale of the Tiger Temple tour in Thailand, and replaced all its tours which include elephant riding with alternative activities. Now the company has ceased

selling the sale of a lion research project in Zambia, as well as San Fermin Festival tours in Pamplona. STA Travel said: “Although there

may be some legacy reference material to these products still

commercial ventures, such as, which markets competing wild animal excursions.” It added that it believed there

remained “much conflicting scientific evidence around whether cetaceans suffer in captivity”. “There may be a wider, societal

debate to be had about the principle of animals in captivity, but while there continues to be significant public demand for these attractions and legal frameworks regulating these, we will continue to focus on engaging with the owners of attractions, with our members and with responsible NGOs to ensure there are agreed standards of animal welfare in place as well as on raising welfare standards in those elements of the supply chain that we can influence as tour operators and agents.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ABTA’S POSITION ON DOLPHIN/ ORCA ATTRACTIONS? Do you agree with or is Abta already doing enough? Email and let us know your thoughts.

available, these tours are no longer available for sale through us. “We are committed to delivering

good practice in animal protection and welfare in our products, and we take our customers’ concerns seriously. We have worked with our suppliers to ensure the product we distribute aligns with our animal policy.” The League Against Cruel Sports

applauded the move and said it followed its own call for its supporters to contact STA’s chief executive two weeks ago. Joe Duckworth, chief executive

of the league, said: “We commend STA Travel for acting on compassion and ceasing its support of this abhorrent bull-running festival.” The San Fermin, Running of the

Bulls festival takes place annually between July 6 and 14. The league said it typically sees

some 48 bulls being slaughtered during the festival’s daily bull runs.

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