Praise Move Toward Cruelty-Free Tourism


Target: John Constable, CEO, STA Travel

Goal: Applaud the cancellation of trips to cruel and questionable animal attractions

A popular travel firm has moved to cancel planning trips to some animal attractions, due to animal welfare concerns. STA Travel, an agency that creates low-cost trips for students, has announced that it will no longer be booking tours to destinations such as SeaWorld Orlando and Thailand’s Tiger Temple. The company has also cancelled the planning of elephant ride tours. The travel firm received help from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals when creating their plan to move toward responsible tourism.

These decisions targeted attractions and industries with known animal welfare issues. Orlando’s SeaWorld, for example, has been the subject of intense public scrutiny due to the cruelty uncovered by the documentary film Blackfish, which explored the consequences of keeping large marine mammals in captivity. The film follows Tilikum, a distressed and aggressive killer whale involved in the deaths of three individuals during his captivity.

The Tiger Temple in Thailand has also been subject to multiple animal rights complaints. The facility houses fifteen endangered tigers which are kept in small cages, despite the fact that the facility claims to be a wildlife sanctuary. The tigers exhibit symptoms of stress, malnourishment, and ill-temper. Thailand’s elephant ride industry has similar conditions, with wild, endangered animals being captured at a young age and put to work at various tourist attractions around the country. The training process for these elephants often involves beatings, starvation, and sleep deprivation in order to “break the animals’ spirits.”

By refusing to bring business to these cruel attractions, STA Travel has taken a large step toward responsible tourism. This focus on compassionate travel could set a positive example for other tourism firms, as well as create informed travelers by calling attention to the cruelty going on at some major destinations. Your signature will commend STA Travel’s internal inquiries into the treatment of the animals at the destinations it supports.


Dear Mr. John Constable,

STA Travel recently announced that it will be cancelling tours to destinations with poor animal welfare reputations. With the help of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, STA was able to eliminate tours to attractions known for cruel treatment of animals, such as SeaWorld in Orlando as well as Thailand’s Tiger Temple and elephant rides.

The decision not to support attractions known for animal cruelty sends a strong message to the tourism industry and to travelers. I commend your decision, which will set a positive example for other travel firms, and encourage informed traveling among customers.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Rudolph.A.Furtado via Creative Commons

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  1. Kae Blecha, OTR says:

    Finally a company who has its heart in the right place and won’t condone animal mistreatment even if they could make a couple of bucks off of it like so many others. You really made my day.

  2. T Bruning says:

    This is great news. Intrepid Travel in Australia have also just done the same thing – no elephant riding in its programmes. Instead it wlll be working with animal rehabilitation & sanctuary facilities.
    People must be educated as to how these poor animals are being treated to perform. I have done elephant riding in Thailand many years ago – I wish I knew then what I know now as I never would have done it & I hate the thought that I supported these “tourist traps” with my tourist dollars. It just never occurred to me what these elephants had gone through. I just always thought the Thai people had respect for their elephants & they were treated well. So now I help spread the word. I hope other travel companies follow suit & ban these shows/rides from their brochures.

  3. Sheila Jefferson says:

    Thank you!!! 🙂

  4. Great job, STA. So glad to hear that this actually happening, its about time. Hope other tour agencies follow this path. Lets ban together to help promote animal welfare. The training process of baby elephant involved beine tied up and relentless beatings in isolate location so the animals would be obedient. Most tourists has no clue of the suffering they had been through. All they can see is cute obedient animals. Thank you STA for pioneering this great cause.

  5. This is an amazing news! A boss with a lot of money in bank cares more about wildlife! Thumbs up!

    Elephants can be seen in wild in many national parks in Asia, Khao Yai in Thailand is one option:

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