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Responsible Travel Charter Initiative Launched [13/01/2005]

A new initiative to develop animal-friendly responsible travel has been launched by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), with the aim of promoting a proposed Charter to the global travel industry.

Animal cruelty can blight peoples' travel experiences and taint their impression of their destination. WSPA, which has member societies in 126 countries worldwide, receives regular complaints from distressed holidaymakers who have witnessed animal suffering. Typical examples include the mistreatment of working animals; the exploitation of animals in entertainment; the abandonment of strays; and the selling of souvenirs made from endangered species.

Companies that agree to the Charter will recognise that animals deserve special consideration, and thus refuse to organise, advertise or promote events that cause animal suffering, including cruel sports such as bullfights, circuses with wild animals or zoos or aquaria that fail to meet specific standards. The Charter also calls on companies to actively discourage the use of wild animals held captive for street entertainment, such as the use of chimpanzees in photography, and dancing bears.

MPs supporting the Charter are Ian Cawsey, MP (Labour) and Roger Gale, MP (Conservative), President of the Conservative Animal Welfare Group, who said, "Ethical tourism is a hot topic and the public expects the travel industry to set high standards for its activities. WSPA is seeking to assist the travel industry in meeting the growing demand of ethical/animal friendly tourism, by introducing this excellent initiative, which I wholeheartedly support."

Leah Garcés, Campaigns Director, said, "WSPA is urging the travel industry to take on board animal welfare concerns, and to work with us to develop further this proposed Charter initiative."

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