Thank you for contacting me about UK tour companies and animal welfare standards.
I am committed to the highest standards of animal welfare, both here in the UK and internationally. I am pleased that the United Kingdom continues to engage with other countries both directly and as part of global forums such as the World Organisation for Animal Health. In addition, Ministers are committed to working to promote the conservation of wild animals worldwide.
I am pleased that the Government has been working with the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) on the issue of the welfare of elephants in tourist attractions overseas to encourage them to make customers aware of reported animal welfare issues. It is important that when going abroad, tourists consider whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that animals have been mistreated before deciding whether to visit an animal attraction.
I am also aware that ABTA has published Global Welfare Guidance for Animals in Tourism. This includes guidance on unacceptable activities which are known to have a detrimental effect on animal welfare, as well as extended minimum welfare requirements for whales and dolphins, and was updated in 2020 to include specific advice on the issue of the welfare of elephants in tourist attractions.
Of course, I would actively encourage tourists to report any animal welfare concerns to their UK tour operator or travel agent on return to the UK.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.