Global Code of Ethics for Tourism: Lacking a position on animal welfare

Global Code of Ethics for Tourism: Lacking a position on animal welfare

Global Code of Ethics for Tourism

The Global Code of Ethics for Tourism was adopted by the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization in 1999 and recognized by the United Nations in 2001. Although the Code is not legally binding, it features a frame of reference for the responsible development of tourism in the world. As a voluntary implementation mechanism, it contributes to minimizing the negative impacts of tourism on the environment and society while maximizing the benefits for people living in tourism destinations.

The Code includes 10 articles covering the economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects of tourism and hospitality:

1: Tourism’s contribution to mutual understanding and respect between peoples and societies
2: Tourism as a vehicle for individual and collective fulfillment
3: Tourism, a factor of sustainable development
4: Tourism, a user of the cultural heritage of mankind and contributor to its enhancement
5: Tourism, a beneficial activity for host countries and communities
6: Obligations of stakeholders in tourism development
7: Right to tourism
8: Liberty of tourist movements
9: Rights of the workers and entrepreneurs in the tourism industry
10: Implementation of the principles of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism

The Global Code of Ethics plays a key role in the development of responsible tourism. Despite of the importance of animals in tourism, none of the articles made reference to animals and their welfare.

Article 11 on animal welfare

Professor David Fennell from Brock University has critically evaluated the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism as a frame of reference for responsible tourism. As he argues, the Code fails to fully address the notion of responsible tourism. By neglecting the needs of millions of animals used in the tourism industry for human entertainment and benefit, the Code fails to fully address the notion of responsible tourism. As he points out “being responsible means taking care of both human and animal needs”.

As a result, Professor Fennell recommends that the World Tourism Organization reconvene to amend the Code by adding Article 11 “Respect and welfare of animals used in the tourism industry”. In doing so, Article 11 takes into consideration the welfare needs of wild and domesticated animals according to seven principles (for a detailed overview see Fennell 2016). These principles draw attention to the working conditions of animals, proper welfare standards, confinement of animals for human entertainment and practices that inflict suffering on animals among others. A good overview of this discussion and Article 11 is presented in the video below. The video is base on a presentation given by Professor Fennell at Canisius College for the Ecotourism Symposium on January 18, 2015.

 

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Pyhä and Luosto: Huskies, Horses and Reindeers

Pyhä and Luosto

During the second week of January 2017, Animal Tourism Finland visited Pyhä and Luosto ski resorts. These two ski resorts are located in Finnish Lapland just aside the Pyhä-Luosto National Park. Pyhä and Luosto count with a large variety of service providers, including animal-based tourism companies. Animal-based activities such as dog sledding, reindeer safaris and horseback riding are particularly popular among visitors. A simple visit to see the huskies, reindeers and horses is also a very exciting activity.

Off-piste Adventures and Arctic Husky Farm

In this trip, we had the opportunity to visit two of the companies involved in the project. First, we visited Off-Piste Adventures which offers horseback riding activities with Finnhorses and also reindeer safaris. Mia Lappalainen, the owner of the company, was our host. She showed us around the premises and told us about her services and her business philosophy.

Finnhorse
Photo: Mikko Äijälä

Then, we visited Arctic Husky Farm which is specialized in dog sledding. We were welcomed and hosted by Outi Kunnari who is the production supervisor of the company. She gave us a tour around the farm and offered us the possibility to try dog sledding ourselves. It was an awesome experience! During our visit we became familiar with the services and business operations of the company.

Photo: JC García-Rosell

In both companies, we had the opportunity to follow human-animal interactions taking place between the animals, the staff and the tourists. It was an excellent opportunity for getting further insights into the planning of work package 2. It is in work package 2 that we will take a closer look at consumer values in relation to animal-based tourism services. In the video below Minni and Tarja talk about the work ahead. The video was made in the premises of Arctic Husky Farm.

Text: JC García-Rosell

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Animal welfare in tourism: society’s changing values

Animal Welfare in tourism

At the end of 2016, Animal Tourism Finland looked back at some of the major animal tourism stories. TripAdvisor stopping the selling of tickets to attractions that involve physical contact with wild animals or endangered species and Sea World San Diego announcing that 2016 will be the last year of theatrical killer whale experience. These initiatives show how companies are listening to their customers and redesigning their animal-based services according to their customer values. As Joel Manby, CEO of SeaWorld said “The main point [for this decision] is we are listening to our guests”.

Also in Finland, we have seen that the topic of animal welfare in tourism has been in the news lately. While the case of Särkänniemi’s dolphins was among the top stories in the media, animal tourism related stories have constantly been in the news. For example, news about how the husky safaris are gaining popularity among Asian tourists and discussions around the development of wolf tourism in Lieksa. Also Tytti McVeigh (Finnish Association for Fair Tourism) in a interview given to Talouselämä recently observed that Finnish tourists are becoming more and more interested in animal welfare.

Animal-welfare-Reindeer-Lapland
Photo: JC García-Rosell

These developments in the tourism industry are not isolated from the rest of society. In fact, they are happening due to changing values in society.

Animal-friendly consumer values

In a study published in the Journal of Biological Conservation in 2016, it was reported how the attitudes of Americans towards animals has changed during the past decades. Similarly, a study conducted with Chinese university students in 2010 showed positive attitudes and opinions toward animals welfare initiatives. These studies are indicative of growing concern for the welfare of animals both wild and domestic. These developments have been reflected in the media. For example, South China Morning Post reported last December on China’s growing animal rights movement and Newsweek closed the year with a report on society’s increasing positive views of non-human animals. As consumer, humans are beginning to see non-human animals as individuals with personalities, preferences and rights.

Human-animal relations in the spotlight

The importance of human-animal relations were also addressed in the traditional New Year’s Speech of the President of Finland. President Sauli Niinistö referred to these relations when citing Director Juha Hurme “People, animals and plants, all from the same root, made of the same matter”. He then continued by reflecting on his encounter with Sulo Karjalainen “the bear man”. As President Niinisto said “Sulo Karjalainen looks at a bear and the animal looks at him, face to face. Do they understand something, even a lot, about each other? Humanity or animality, both creatures of nature”.

Animal-Welfare-Lapland
Photo: Tarja Salmela-Leppänen

The Finnish Animal Welfare Act is under reform. There are plans to acknowledge the intrinsic value of animals in the new Finnish Animal Welfare Act. The intrinsic value of animals refers to the value an animal possesses in its own right, as an end-in-itself. From this perspective, animal welfare becomes a question of protecting animals, rather than simply evaluating the morality of human practices toward animals. The Dutch Animal Welfare Act recognized the intrinsic value of animals in 1981.

“The values of animals” will be discussed in the up-coming Animal Studies Conference organized by the Finnish Society for Human−Animal Studies in April 24.-25, 2017 in Helsinki. Animal Tourism Finland will take part in the conference. The event will be an excellent forum for discussing the value of animals for tourism companies and tourists.

The year 2017 will be a year full of exciting discussions on animal welfare. Some of these discussions will be related to tourism and Animal Tourism Finland will definitely be part of them!

Text: JC García-Rosell

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