On the heels of TripAdvisor announcing it is ending ticket sales for attractions with whales and dolphins in captivity, Airbnb is following suit and putting in efforts to set a “new standard for animal tourism.”
The vacation rental and experience booking website has launched a new series of Animal Experiences to allow travellers and Canadians to better understand animals through “caring and expert hosts,” it announced online.
“Airbnb Animal Experiences are hosted by caring experts as an antidote to typical tourist attractions that are notorious for ethical concerns,” it said, and has collaborated with World Animal Protection in creating a new policy for more than a thousand experiences.
It said guests will meet animals in places that allow for “gentle observation” and a form of connection “far beyond animal selfies or performances.”
In Ontario, activities include Goat yoga dancing therapy near Barrie, getting Up close and purrsonal at Toronto Humane in Toronto, meeting a new friend at a local animal sanctuary in Campbellford, going on a “Donkey experience” and hiking with alpacas.
Alberta offerings include visiting an equine facilitated learning farm just outside of Calgary.
“We extend our passion for belonging beyond humankind, committing to protect the welfare of animals across any Experience that features them,” said Airbnb.
“Animals should be appreciated for their intrinsic value and this new animal welfare policy has been designed to ensure their wellbeing at all times.”
The new Animal Welfare Policy outlines how people will have no direct contact with animals, there will be a maximum number of riders on an animal and a weight limit, marina mammals never be in captivity for entertainment purposes, broader host businesses won’t feature elephant rides, big cat interactions, hunting for sport, and no animals will be used as “selfie props.”
Airbnb said to help animals in the long term, more than 100 Animal Experiences are ‘Social Impact Experiences,’ which means proceeds from those bookings will be given to non-profits and supporting causes that include animal rescue and conservation.
It said other “Animal Experiences will come to life both on and offline through an exclusive partnership with The Dodo, the leading brand for mobile animal content in the U.S. and one of the world’s most-engaged media brands on social.”
Airbnb CEO and Co-Founder Brian Chesky said it’s easy to feel disconnected with nature and animals because of technology, “but for many busy people, looking at them through a screen is the closest they can get. With Airbnb Animal Experiences, locals and travelers are just a few clicks away from being alongside them in the real world.“
Executive Director of World Animal Protection, Alesia Soltanpanah, said that the new Airbnb Animal Welfare Policy “will ensure that adventurers have many options to experience the beauty of animals in a way that considers their welfare first.”
Airbnb said it will continue to work with World Animal Protection on its approach to animal welfare.