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Chinese tourists more wildlife-friendly, reject elephant rides

By Xu Keyue (Global Times)    08:51, August 13, 2019

An Asian elephant walks across a tourist during an elephant show at a zoo in central Thailand's Chonburi Province, March 1, 2017. In Thailand, elephant-related entertainments serve as an important source of tourism revenue. Although elephant domestication has existed for centuries, controversies over abuses during elephant training and performance still occur from time to time. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese tourists are less likely to ride elephants in Thailand and prefer wildlife-friendly tours, according to a report the World Animal Protection (WAP) China sent to the Global Times on Monday which marks the World Elephant Day.

Chinese tourists who ride elephants and watch elephant shows in Thailand have dropped by 13 percent and 26 percent, respectively, from 2016 to 2019, the report said.

WAP interviewed tourists from 15 main tourist-source counties in Thailand, finding that 37 percent of Chinese tourists think that riding an elephant is acceptable, or 8 percent lower than in 2017 and lower than the global average of 41 percent, the report said.

About 77 percent of the Chinese interviewed said they would rather see animals in the wild while 81 percent agree that tour agencies should avoid activities that cause sufferings to wild animals.

  Elephants Photo: Courtesy of World Animal Protection

"The drop in the number of Chinese tourists riding elephants and watching elephant shows is another piece of good news after China banned the ivory trade in 2017, which highlights the great efforts made by the Chinese public and enterprises on animal protection," WAP China said.

As one of the biggest national groups who visit Thailand, Chinese tourists, which account for 28 percent of international tourists, prefer wildlife-friendly tours and reject tours that would harm animals, WAP China said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Monday.

In 2015, the WAP launched a campaign to promote the idea that "wildlife is not a plaything," of which an "elephant-friendly tour" is part of, to guide tourist agencies to stop selling and promoting tours that harm wildlife, and to promote a sustainable animal-friendly tourism industry.

At the end of July, 15 Chinese tourist agencies - among 240 companies across the world - had joined the campaign and promised to remove wildlife attractions, including elephant rides and show. Five of these Chinese companies also signed a wildlife-friendly tourism intent statement, the report said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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