TripAdvisor and Viator have taken a stand against the exploitation of captive wildlife and endangered species by disabling the booking of these activities on their platforms.
"TripAdvisor and its Viator brand will discontinue selling tickets for specific tourism experiences where travellers come into physical contact with captive wild animals or endangered species, including but not limited to elephant rides, petting tigers, and swim with dolphin attractions," TripAdvisor said in a statement.
The ability to book some of these activities through TripAdvisor has been removed, effective immediately, but the changes will be fully implemented by early 2017. The site is also going one step further and is launching an educational portal.
The booking platform is also hoping to celebrate the attractions which actually further animal welfare and conservation.
The decision by TripAdvisor comes amid increasing calls to end captive wildlife interactions which are detrimental to animal welfare.
Lion cub petting has been especially highlighted over the last year after the release of the documentary 'Blood Lions', which explained the link between captive breeding and canned hunting, while also exposing the absence of conservation value in these practices.
Elephant riding has also come under fire, with animal welfare organisations saying that young elephants must be 'broken' in order to be trained. This process often includes isolating the calves, withholding food and using bullhooks and other painful instruments for punishment.
However many tourists are not aware of what goes on behind the scenes at these attractions - hence the calls for tourism companies and agencies to take a stand on the issue.
TripAdvisor has also implemented an appeals process for attractions which are affected by the new booking policy, but which can provide proof that they are within TripAdvisor guidelines.
Of course, the new policy does not include attractions with domestic animal interactions (e.g. horseback riding, petting zoos, etc), aquarium touch pools and feeding programmes where tourists are supervised, as well as voluntourism programmes which have conservation value or aid in animal welfare (e.g. sanctuaries).
When the policy is fully implemented across the platform in early 2017, any interaction involving animals will have a paw icon in the listing. This icon will lead users to the educational portal where they can see expert input on the ethics of the animal activity.
TripAdvisor's decision has been applauded by various organisations, including PETA, WildCRU and UNTWO.