Thomas Cook abandons attraction, while ATD Travel Voices Support: The UK’s second largest and oldest tour operator, Thomas Cook, last week announced that it will stop selling tickets to animal attractions that include killer whales—this means SeaWorld Florida—while ATD Travel Services, which comprises Attraction Tickets Direct, Do Something Different and Theme Park Beds, made it clear that it will continue to sell SeaWorld.
In a blog post announcing the move, Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser attributed the decision, in part, to changing customer expectations when it comes to animal attractions. Thomas Cook sells more than 10,000 day trips a year to SeaWorld Florida. The company implemented an animal welfare policy a year-and-a-half ago that has led to the removal of 29 animal attractions from its brochures and itineraries as they did not meet minimum standards set by Abta, the UK travel association. Only 20 now remain.
Meanwhile, ATD chief executive Oliver Brendon, issued a statement that said, in part: “We all have a responsibility to act ethically and support the causes that mean the most to us but I do not feel that withdrawing support from brands such as SeaWorld will have a positive effect on these issues. “The survival rate of whale calves born in the wild is plummeting due, in all likelihood to pollution and plastics in the ocean. There is currently no viable, humane and proven alternative for orcas who have spent their lives in captivity. We all have a responsibility to act ethically and support the causes that mean the most to us but I do not feel that withdrawing support from brands such as SeaWorld will have a positive effect on these issues.” ATD sells more than a million tickets annually to attractions, ground tours and experiences.