Big move by TripAdvisor to do its bit to "end whale and dolphin captivity" by banning bookings to attractions that breed or import captive whales and dolphins.
High-profile centers such as Sea World and Loro Parque are included in a move announced this week to end all commercial relationships with such establishments.
TripAdvisor says attractions that are currently on sale on the site and subsidiary Viator that are found to breach the new rules will be removed over the next few months.
The policy will come into force by the end of 2019 and will also listings that were previously placed on its third-party reservation system, Bokun.
The new policy will not apply to seaside sanctuaries that provide care to cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) "already in captivity," the company says.
It took the decision after a consultation process with experts including marine biologists, zoologists and conservationists.
In September this year, TripAdvisor joined a group of travel brands, including Skyscanner, Ctrip and Booking.com, to form a "global partnership to encourage sustainable tourism projects around the world."
The move will go a considerable way to appeasing animal welfare groups that applauded TripAdvisor's initial move in May 2018 to ban ticket sales for "experiences where captive wild or endangered animals are forced to perform demeaning tricks or other unnatural behavior."
But some complained the move did not go far enough, especially as tickets to the likes of Sea World and Loro Parque were still sold on TripAdvisor.
Dermot Halpin, president for TripAdvisor Experiences and Rentals, says: "Our aim is not only to prevent future generations of whales and dolphins from being raised in captivity, but also to encourage the industry to move towards alternative models, like seaside sanctuaries, that will better provide for the needs of the current captive population."
Support and anger
One of TripAdvisor's biggest critics in recent years, World Animal Protection, says it welcomes the extension of the ban.
Nick Stewart, global head of campaigns, says: "We are thrilled that TripAdvisor has committed to end the sale of all captive cetacean attractions.
"This sends a clear message to other travel companies that we must end this cruel industry once and for all. Together we can ensure this is the last generation of dolphins held captive for entertainment."
Still, some groups, namely the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, are not happy with TripAdvisor's decision.
President and CEO Dan Ashe says TripAdvisor is "letting voices of a radical minority dictate corporate policy" and should, instead, "give customers good information and trust them to make well-informed decisions."
Ashe continues: "The quality of care provided by AZA member facilities is well-established and affirmed through our rigorous and independent accreditation process, which assures the well-being of the animals in their care always comes first based on the highest levels of scientific evidence and data.
"Well-designed habitats and respectfully conducted interactions with cetaceans at accredited facilities are increasingly popular with public audiences, and they are proven to create connections that promote understanding and inspire action by the guests.
"Revenue generated at AZA facilities that care for dolphins and whales directly supports millions of dollars in animal welfare research, global conservation efforts, and critical rescue and rehabilitation activities, not the capture of cetaceans from the wild."
The AZA claims TripAdvisor is "going down the same path as Thomas Cook and should take a close look at what happens to businesses that put extreme opinions ahead of informed customers."
Others suggest the move should include removing entire listings as well as the ability to book activities.
TripAdvisor says such facilities will remain on the site "for travelers to rate and review."