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Marine Tourism – is it sustainable?

Whale shows, performing seals and swimming with dolphins may have been on the bucket list of travellers in the past, but is there a place for marine tourism any more? 

killer whale

Marine Tourism

Spain, Florida, The Dominican Republic. Think of these and a few years ago it was hard to not think of going to see some kind of Sealife based show or attraction. There are about 3,000 whales and dolphins still kept in captivity around the world, with the predominate excuse being for 'education' purposes, in the forms of performances or physical interactions; swimming with dolphins especially has been on the bucket list of many-a traveller...but is there a place for this now? It's undoubtedly a rather special experience to interact with such a beautiful species, but with the recent revelations with the 'behind the scenes' reality, surely it should be in ever-declining demand? Companies such as Thomas Cook and Trip Advisor have revisited their stance on captive animal attractions and Responsible Travel have dropped them altogether. We think it's about time that everyone followed their lead.

Life in Captivity

Hands up, many of us here at Alpha contributed to this industry in our 'days of youth' childhood family holidays; but without trying to make us sound quite so ancient, or blame our parents, we didn't have the magical thing known as the world wide web to bring to light where exactly our parent's money was going (bar from the over-priced photo that is still hanging in our hallway). Nowadays there is an abundance of research, articles and news stories online with cold, hard facts of the truth behind these shows and attractions. The whales, dolphins and other marine mammals are kept in small, un-stimulating containers, with little or no enrichment, whilst interactions with humans and trainers may look cute and entertaining but can be scary and invasive experiences for the wildlife involved.

Blackfish, which if you haven't heard of is an acclaimed documentary on the life of whales in captivity, highlights not only the detrimental effects on the mammals but the danger they pose to humans through interactions - something us insurance providers would like to particularly highlight! Did you know dolphins can transmit zoonotic diseases to humans, including fungal infections? As well as them having up to 240 pretty sharp teeth? Some food for thought there...

Have you ever paused to think how these species ended up in the tanks jumping through hoops for you? They're captured from the wild - where they belong - in sometimes pretty barbaric ways, torn from their families and shipped off sometimes halfway around the world. Removing certain members of a pod can be extremely damaging to wild populations and conservation of these species - something these marine tourist attractions claim to help.

Not all Doom and Gloom

Anyways, we're not here to make you feel all sad and down today, so we'd like to reassure you that there are positive steps that charities, the industry and Alpha are making to put an end to the unsustainable practices detailed above.

*In steps WDC*

WDC (Whale and Dolphin Conservation) is a charity leading the way in all things, whale and dolphin. They aim for us to live in a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free; they have a number of ongoing campaigns helping cetaceans across the globe, including their End Captivity campaign, which coincidentally links quite nicely to Alpha's Sustainable Tourism mission. This in mind, we've teamed up with WDC to support their work and help them raise the all-important awareness.

Want to help? You can donate on WDC's page here, or simply enter the code 'WDCAlpha' on your next policy from us, and you'll receive 20%* discount on your premium, whilst WDC will receive 10% of the base policy premiums as a donation.

This partnership is all shiny and new right now - so watch this space for more announcements, updates on donations and what they're helping to achieve!

Want to find out more about Sustainable Tourism? Check out our Introduction to Sustainable Tourism.
*This code gives you an additional 5% off the online automatic 15% discount, totalling 20% off when compared to our call centre rates. This code cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer, discount, promotion or affiliate scheme.

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