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Animals & tourism

Track chair: Dr Susanna Curtin, Bournemouth University and Professor David Fennell, Brock University, Canada

Animal attractions feature as an important part of the holiday experience. In order to meet this consumer demand, an increasing number of destinations around the world offer opportunities to view or interact with captive and/or non-captive wildlife. The spectrum of animal attractions is diverse and include opportunities for watching animals in their natural habitats, visiting zoological parks, swimming with marine mammals, riding animals, posing with them for photographs, watching them perform, and petting them; all of which sustain a rapidly expanding industry with substantial returns to regional and national economies.

The question is how can tourism improve the lives and/or habitats of the animals that people go on holiday to see? Unfortunately, there are too many examples of poor practice where animal welfare or animal conservation is severely compromised resulting in customer complaints, negative media stories and NGO concerns. Given the rise in animal attractions, animal welfare is therefore clearly on the tourism agenda.  The aim now is to challenge bad practice and make positive changes to the use of animals in tourism. The focus is on improving standards for animals in captivity, increasing the contribution to conservation for non-captive animals and creating better customer experiences in an attempt to drive a more responsible and ethical animal tourism industry. 

Consequently, this conference theme invites presentations that consider the interaction between people and captive and non-captive animals in tourism settings. The aim is to highlight the growth of this sector, the spectrum of consumer experiences, visitors’ perceptions of animal attractions, examples of poor practice and evidence of good practice. Topics may include captive or non-captive animals and consumptive or non-consumptive forms of wildlife tourism. Presentations will ideally, but not exclusively, focus on:

  • Non-captive wildlife (may include habitat loss and poaching; may also include souvenirs and illegal trade)
  • Captive wildlife attractions: zoos, wildlife parks, rehabilitation centres etc
  • Consumer attitudes towards animals in captivity
  • The commodification or commoditization of animals (such as animals as sources of food; animals used for combat and competition; animal threats; animals used in festivals and traditions; indigenous uses of animals; policy around the use of animals in tourism)
  • Controversial use of animals in captivity
  • The impacts of tourism on animal welfare
  • Animal ethics (theory)
  • The efficacy of wildlife interpretation
  • Marine wildlife tourism
  • ‘Swim with’ programmes
  • The use and training of wildlife guides
  • Animal porters, or more broadly animals workers
  • Managing wildlife tourists
  • Photographing wildlife.

Call for papers

  • Deadline for abstract submission: 30 June 2017
  • Confirmation of acceptance: 30 June 2017
  • Last date for early bird registration: 14 July 2017
  • Deadline for registration: 18 Aug 2017

Please submit email abstracts to: DepTHconference2017@bournemouth.ac.uk