Advice from Simon Pickup, sustainable tourism manager, Abta

Animal attractions are a popular choice of holiday add-on among clients, but it’s important you sell the right one, according to Abta’s sustainable tourism manager Simon Pickup. He offers advice on what to consider when selling an animal attraction
or experience.

Do your research

Consumer demand is consistently high for animal attractions and new experiences are regularly being developed.

Abta’s research in 2013 found one in five customers bought tickets to an animal experience as part of their holiday. But consumers want to be assured of good standards of welfare; 70% of consumers said seeing an animal being mistreated would have a negative impact on the perception 
of their holiday and the destination (72%).

A common approach by some non-governmental organisations and charities is to name and shame businesses supporting poor welfare, so do your research to ensure good standards of welfare are 
in place for your customers and your business.

Ensure minimum welfare standards 
are in place

Abta’s Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism includes a set of recommended minimum requirements based on internationally recognised welfare standards. For example, ensuring that animals are appropriately fed and watered, have places to rest and can move around easily.

If you work with operators that provide excursions, make them aware of the minimum requirements regarding animal welfare and ask that they implement them with attractions 
in the destination.

If you contract attractions directly, send the minimum requirements to all of your suppliers and ask them to self-assess against them. You may also wish to train staff to conduct assessments of your suppliers or employ an external business to assist with this.

Get your marketing right

Make sure your business does not promote attractions where animals may be used as photographic ‘props’, or in begging, or forced to perform anything not based on their natural behaviour.

Another area to consider is activities involving bloodsports, such as bull fighting, or bull-running. Such activities are widely regarded as unacceptable, so it’s important to get your marketing messages right when promoting visits to areas where they take place. There’s a big difference between promoting the architectural significance of a bull ring to promoting attendance at a bull fight, so be clear in all your external communications.

Choose attractions carefully

The trade in many animals commonly found in tourism attractions is tightly controlled through Cites – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. As such, it’s important to work with attractions that don’t support illegal acquisition practices and ensure the attractions you sell tickets to are sourcing their animals responsibly. provides an up-to-date list of all attractions known to have sourced dolphins through poor practices such as the Taiji Dolphin drives in Japan, for example.

Abta’s guide and a series of manuals on related topics are available from 
the members’ area of 
If you are not a member, email: