The retailer launched an audit of itineraries involving animals in 2014 with an in-depth review of suppliers. Emma Snipp, STA’s head of safety and responsible travel, said STA had sought advice from Abta and the Born Free Foundation.
“We were buying a lot of tours in from third party suppliers without necessarily knowing what was involved. We looked at it and came up with good practice. As a result we excluded, reviewed and amended some itineraries.”
“We were dealing with suppliers that probably did not know any better.” Generally, she said, suppliers wanted to improve and avoid complaints. “It’s not been easy but it’s bought about positive change with our suppliers. However, she said some hotels still posed a problem with a trend towards keeping captive animals.
She said changing images in brochures and websites made a big difference: “Anything in a natural environment is okay.”
STA encourages staff and customers to report welfare issues via a web link.
“We’re committed that our customers will not be upset by anything they see involving an animal. We don’t want to see parrots riding bikes or camels with half a dozen people on their backs. Why should we pay for this when we can see fantastic animals behaving naturally?”