New Airbnb excursions to focus on animals
Airbnb Experiences, the activities arm of the home sharing platform, offers travelers plenty of activities in Lima, Peru. They can learn to tour the capital on a bamboo bike ($ 32); make ceviche in a local’s house ($ 62); and spend 90 minutes with Otto, the skateboarder bulldog who set a world record for the longest human tunnel a skate dog can walk (imagine a line of participants standing with their legs apart, creating a passage for the rolling dog).
In the three years since Airbnb introduced its experience bookings, it has found some of its most popular involved animals. Thusday the company presents “Airbnb animal experiences”, An extended and autonomous category, just like its existing“ Food and drinks ”and“ Sports and outdoors ”categories. The new animal division will focus on ethics.
“We realized that people wanted to reconnect with animals,” said Mikel Freemon, animal manager at Airbnb Experiences. “We wanted to respond to this desire responsibly. “
The announcement comes at a time of more scrutiny of organizations offering animal and wildlife experiences in tourist destinations; On Wednesday, TripAdvisor announced it would end its practice of selling tickets to events or attractions that breed or purchase dolphins, whales and other marine mammals. Indeed, the level of regulation of zoos, animal parks and other animal shelters is a growing concern around the world, especially in developing countries, which can potentially attract travelers to situations where animals are abused for their entertainment, or worse.
By expanding the division – approximately half of its more than 1,000 animal experiments, available in 58 countries, will be new at launch – the company worked with World Animal Protection, a non-profit organization dedicated to animal welfare, to create a policy for the ethical treatment of animals. Pet owners, called “hosts”, must comply with the policy to be included on the platform.
Airbnb policy prohibits direct contact with wildlife such as petting, feeding or riding them, with a few exceptions for nonprofits conducting conservation research (the full policy is here). Domestic and livestock animals such as horses and camels may carry no more than one rider and no more than 20 percent of their body weight. The rules prohibit interactions with elephants, including horseback riding, swimming or feeding, as well as any experience involving marine mammals in captivity.
“Instead of swimming with the dolphins in captivity, you can go with a researcher and study the wild dolphins,” Ms. Freemon said.
World Animal Protection will not financially benefit from Animal Experiences bookings, but expressed appreciation for such an important and visible partner as Airbnb, where the experiences it offers in its categories fell from 500 in 2016, when the division was introduced, around 40,000 now.
“Having a travel leader like Airbnb committed to making animal welfare a top priority will not only help educate travelers about the importance of cruelty-free animal tourism, but will also show them the opportunities to discover wildlife in their natural habitats while traveling, ”wrote Alesia Soltanpanah, executive director of World Animal Protection, in an email.
Airbnb is not the only company to see its animal activities increase in popularity. Five years ago, Intrepid Travel banned elephant rides around the world, including in Southeast Asia where it was popular, based on research conducted by World Animal Protection into the abuse of elephants. elephants used in tourism. The company achieved a record 12% growth in its wildlife tours among American travelers in the past year. Their popularity has prompted the company to add 10 new wildlife-focused tours in 2020, including visits to an orangutan rehabilitation center in Borneo and a non-equestrian elephant sanctuary in Laos.
Provide opportunities to work with rescued monkeys and parrots in Guatemala or to rehabilitate kangaroos in Australia, International animal experience, based in Ontario, Canada, said his travels appealed to travelers and families on sabbaticals. The company visits the animal organizations it works with to monitor them for ethical practices. In November, it will launch a new 10-day program Nepal Expedition group trip to volunteer with dog rescue groups during Kuku Tihar, the day Nepalese Hindus bless the dogs (C $ 2,495 or approximately $ 1,880).
“Knowing that we have been to these places really helps our customers have confidence that they will be helping the animals,” said Nora Livingstone, General Manager of Animal Experience International.
The ethics of animal tourism are of course not limited to paid tours. In Scotland last summer, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, a marine conservation charity, launched the Hebrides Whale Trail, who identifies places on earth where travelers can see marine mammals from the shore instead of obstructing them on the water.
Expanded Airbnb Animal Experiences range from 90 minutes with Otto the skateboard dog to multi-day game drives with environmentalists. There are expeditions to Brooklyn to see wild parrots, walks in Britain with mini ponies and tea parties with “rascal” sheep in Scotland known to steal crumpets and munch on sweaters.
Animal experiences start at $ 10 and cost $ 500 or more for larger game drives. The average price is around $ 50.
Many of his new animal experiments involve animal experts such as veterinarians, farmers, naturalists, and researchers. In Chernobyl, travelers can participate in a program to meet the wild descendants of dogs left behind in the 1980s when Ukrainian residents fled in the wake of the nuclear reactor explosion. Travelers can help socialize and clean the dogs, known to be safe from contamination, with a group working to promote their adoption.
“We want travelers to meet animals through the eyes of the people who live and work with them,” Ms. Freemon said. “They are translators for these animals so that you can see them and know them through their eyes.”
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