Elephants sparring in a national park in Kenya.

Major travel trade body advises against direct elephant contact experiences


With our support, Germany's DRV publishes information to help steer tourists towards elephant-friendly alternatives

In a second big win for animals affected by travel industry tourism in the past week, German travel trade association DRV has worked with us to help protect the welfare of elephants suffering in the name of tourist entertainment.

We have been sharing our expertise with DRV over the past year, providing guidelines for responsible elephant tourism. The organisation has now published information on its website, helping members identify attractions that protect the welfare of elephants. This move also serves to steer travellers towards elephant-friendly alternatives.

Better lives for elephants

DRV’s 4,000 members represent 85 percent of the German travel industry, and include world-leading operators such as TUI, DER Touristik GmbH and Thomas Cook AG.

The newly published information raises awareness among travel operators and agents working in Germany on how elephants used as entertainment or as tourist attractions often suffer poor treatment, ill health and lasting damage.

It offers:

  • clear criteria on how to identify elephant-friendly attractions
  • recommendations not to offer direct contact between tourists and elephants, such as riding or stroking
  • recommendations to avoid the offer of performances with unnatural activities, such as painting elephants or elephant polo.

Kathleen Frech, our European campaigner based in Germany, assisted DRV with its guidance.

She said: “Putting the welfare of elephants first when advising its members about what elephant excursions to offer is a bold step. DRV’s information is clear and simple to action.

“It has the power to change norms among German travel operators and travel agents, and in turn create solid, lasting positive change to the lives of thousands of elephants put to work in the tourism industry all over the world.”

Moving the world to protect animals

DRV joins a rapidly growing group of influential industry stakeholders helping to bring an end to the suffering of elephants for tourist entertainment. We are engaging with the global travel industry, pushing for commitments to stop sending customers to venues where they can ride elephants and see shows where elephants are forced to perform.

Over 100 global travel companies have already committed to no longer offer visits to venues with elephant rides and shows in any of their markets. Among these are popular brands from across the world, like Contiki, Kuoni Travel UK, Intrepid and TUI.

We are also celebrating the news this week that thanks to over 558,000 supporters who signed our petition, TripAdvisor has stopped selling tickets to some of the world’s cruellest tourist activities.

Travel operators can help make responsible elephant tourism the norm by adopting criteria such as those advised by DRV. If you are a tour operator or agent and you want to part of the growing list of elephant-friendly travel companies, get in contact with World Animal Protection.

Putting the welfare of elephants first when advising its members about what elephant excursions to offer is a bold step. DRV’s information is clear and simple to action. Kathleen Frech, our European campaigner based in Germany.

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