The Donkey Sanctuary’s campaign to improve animal welfare standards in tourism have been recognised with a Silver award in the Best Animal Welfare Initiative category at the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 at World Travel Market in London.
The charity which campaigns to improve the welfare of donkeys and mules used in tourism was announced as the joint-Silver winner at a special ceremony yesterday at World Travel Market in London, part of World Responsible Tourism Day. The category was won jointly by the Campaign Against Canned Hunting and Hetta Huskies.
With recent high profile controversy around Cecil the Lion, the confinement of orcas in captivity and elephant trekking experiences, the Best Animal Welfare Initiative, supported by the Born Free Foundation is a very topical category this year. The category awards those organisations and businesses with a progressive ethical approach to maintaining the dignity of animals in, or through, tourism. The judges were looking for tourism initiatives that exemplify the latest innovation, thinking and leadership in ethical approaches to animal welfare, proven achievements in addressing the unethical treatment of animals in tourism, and long-term visions for the future.
In his journal ‘Progress in Responsible Tourism’ Professor Harold Goodwin, Chair of the judging panel comments on why The Donkey Sanctuary have been recognised “The judges were particularly impressed by its work and accomplishments but it stood out for the number of other entries in the Awards in which the inspirational and intellectual influence of The Donkey Sanctuary was acknowledged. They are clearly leaders in donkey welfare”. Goodwin adds “Judging the Awards is an exacting task; the decisions which the judges take get tougher every year. The volume, quality and diversity of nominations grow each year and each category engenders considerable debate amongst the judges. The quality that we had before us this year is higher than ever - evidenced by the fact that there are joint gold winners in four of the twelve categories”.
Andy Foxcroft, Director of Care and Welfare for The Donkey Sanctuary commented on their win, “We are thrilled to receive a Silver award for our Take STEPS campaign and to be amongst such inspiring stories. Across the world, millions of animals are used in the tourism industry and it is fantastic that the Responsible Travel awards recognise those who work so hard to improve welfare conditions in so many ways. We will continue our Take STEPS campaign in 2016 and are in the process of identifying new regions where we can improve the welfare standards for working donkeys and mules.”
Welcoming over 500 people to the event in London, Justin Francis, Managing director of Awards organisers Responsible Travel explained how the Awards were founded to change the face of the tourist industry. “The aim of the Awards is to inspire the tourists and the tourism industry by what is possible to achieve through responsible tourism” says Francis. “In our 12th year we have added one more inspiring winner and more remarkable stories which will shape how the industry and tourists think about the future of tourism”.
The category is supported for a second year by the Born Free Foundation. President Will Travers OBE says: “Tourism is potentially an enormous force for good. It broadens horizons; it encourages understanding and tolerance; it can bring about change. By recognising tour operators who deliver the highest possible standards of animal welfare through our “Best Animal Welfare Initiative’ award, Born Free and the World Responsible Tourism Awards programme can shine a light on those who are leading the way and setting an example for others to follow.”