The boss of Attraction Tickets Direct says he will not bow to “misguided” pressure from animal rights campaigners and will continue to sell SeaWorld.
Founder and chief executive Oliver Brendon visited the theme park and aquarium in Florida to see its practices for himself after receiving criticism from groups such as Peta.
He praised SeaWorld’s rescue and rehabilitation work, such as saving orcas and dolphins, and urged campaigners to focus their efforts on other issues such as ocean plastic and climate change.
Pressure from campaigners has led companies such as British Airways Holidays, Virgin Holidays, and TripAdvisor’s tickets arm Viator to stop selling SeaWorld. Thomas Cook, before it ceased trading, also took SeaWorld off sale after Peta protests outside its London offices.
Writing in Travel Weekly, Brendon said: “In comparison to urgent challenges like plastic in the ocean, the disappearing Great Barrier Reef and the Amazon burning, campaigning for companies such as mine to stop selling SeaWorld tickets is misplaced, misinformed and misguided.
“Telling organisations such as mine that ‘if you sell SeaWorld or work for SeaWorld, you do not care for animals’ is simply wrong.”
Peta director Elisa Allen said Brendon “needs to take off his rose coloured glasses” and urged ATD to “follow industry leaders like British Airways and Virgin Holidays” and take SeaWorld off sale.
She asked Brendon to “remove the ear plugs that are preventing him from hearing veterinarians’ complaints about the extreme suffering of captive orcas, and stop trying to justify his company’s decision to continue profiting from cruelty to animals”.
Dave Ody, UK sales and marketing director at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, said: “Many in the travel industry have experienced intense activist pressure and rushed to put policies in place that, while well-intentioned, are based on misinformation and distortions of the truth. These policies are often misguided and potentially harmful to the animals they are meant to protect.”
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