“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” This is a famous quote by one philosopher Gustave Flaubert. Tourism should not just be tourism but sustainable tourism. Sustainable tourism is tourism that is economically, sociocultural and environmentally sustainable. With sustainable tourism, sociocultural and environmental impacts are neither permanent nor irreversible. Sustainable tourism plays an important role in conserving the bio-diversity, hence maximizing the positive contribution of tourism, hence boosting the economic status of a certain country.
Animal interactions in tourism
Although there is an increasing awareness on animal welfare issues, many tourists are unaware of how their daily operations and decisions impact animals in tourist destinations. In their day to day operations, tourists carry out practices that are against the tourism’s code of conduct and regulations. these affect animals in one way or the other and to some extent, these practices may be dangerous to human beings
Ethical issues in tourism
Some of the ethical issues that exist in tourism include;
- Pollution that includes noise and water pollution
- Land encroachment by humans
- Deforestation – forests are a main habitat for animals
- Trophy hunting
- Off road driving
- Cuddling of animals
- Canned hunting
- Artificial feeding patterns etc
Tourists in promoting responsible tourism
It is our obligation as tourists to promote responsible tourism . Responsible Tourism requires that operators, hoteliers, governments, local people and tourists take responsibility, take action to make tourism more sustainable. Some of the practices that define responsible tourism include; using responsible tour operators, doing research before visiting zoos, not using culture as an excuse for cruelty, avoid temptations to take selfies, avoid visiting zoos, do not support the use of animals as photographic drops.
Call to action for tour operators
Tour operators also have a responsibility to ensure that tourist practice responsible tourism. Some of the activities they need to do include;
- Consumer education
- Driver guide education
- Establishment of a code of ethics
- Use of certified driver guides
- Advocate for a standard safari code
- Ensuring that driver driver guides adhere to rules
World Animal Protection’s position
World Animal protection has been constantly advocating for good animal welfare around their four campaign areas. On animals in the wild, there is an ongoing campaign dubbed’ ’wild not entertainers’’ which aims to encourage responsible selfies with the wild.
While not all wildlife tourism is harmful, there are examples all over the world of animals being used for profit in ways that inflict suffering on them or endanger them. “One of the biggest culprits is the growing popularity of wildlife selfies where tourists, with the help of tour operators, capture and share images of themselves with wild animals — exploiting them as photo props,”
Some of the reasons cited in the campaign for irresponsible wild selfies include; health concerns- to you and the animal, the animal could be harmful to you as a human, you could hurt the animal or either inflict pain to the animal.
These are people who love animals, they are not ill intentioned but, they want to have an authentic experience with an animal, and this just isn’t it. Getting too intimate with animals for the purpose of taking photographs is the attitude that World Animal Protection aims to change.