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Travel industry tackles wildlife trafficking

Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), American Society for Travel Agents (ASTA), and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced today they will work to help travelers recognize and avoid purchasing the illegal wildlife products that are decimating global populations of elephants, rhinos, tortoises and other endangered species.  

These actions support the mission of the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance (the Alliance), a public-private partnership in which corporate and non-profit member organizations, including WildAid and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), work together with governmental entities to raise awareness about the dangers of wildlife trafficking and to stop consumer demand for endangered species products.  Together, the Associations serve more than 25 million travelers annually.

The announcement comes as the Alliance releases its “Know Before You Go/Ask Before You Buy” digital toolkit, which provides travel and tourism industry leaders with resources they can use to engage travelers in the fight to stop wildlife trafficking. The toolkit materials were developed through the Alliance coalition that includes travel companies, non-profit leaders WildAid, WWF, and TRAFFIC, Discovery Communications and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  

The toolkit includes educational pamphlets, public service announcements, and infographics, that highlight the importance of ending demand for illegal wildlife products with beautiful and powerful imagery.

As new members of the Alliance, CLIA and ASTA have made commitments to distribute wildlife trafficking educational material to its member companies, encourage members to adopt policies that support the Alliance’s mission and lend the voice of their vast networks to speak on this critical issue.   

ATTA made similar commitments to the Alliance last spring. 

All three Associations have shared the toolkit to their member travel companies, a critical sector in the fight against wildlife trafficking, to educate travelers on how to avoid purchasing illegal wildlife products and do their part to stop the demand that fuels poaching and threatens endangered species.

Efforts in the travel industry come at a critical time, as wildlife around the world are under threat.  From climate change to habitat loss, animals around the world are suffering steep population declines.  But in the last decade, illegal poaching has been pushing endangered animals to the brink of extinction.  An unprecedented global demand for exotic wildlife products has triggered an industrial-scale killing spree of endangered species like elephants, rhinos, tigers and other endangered animals.  Wildlife trafficking is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry.  Money from the illegal wildlife trade has been linked to organized crime, drug lords, gangs, and corrupt governments—all at the expense of wild animals, the environment, and our national security.

As animals disappear from the wild, the opportunity to view them decreases, creating a domino effect that is rippling across the travel and tourism industry.  Ensuring animals remain in the wild is not only good for the wildlife and ecosystems, but it’s also good for business.

“It is exciting to see the U.S. travel industry step up and use their deep relationships with the traveling public to raise awareness about the global wildlife trafficking crisis and give unsuspecting travelers the tools to make good buying decisions,” said David J. Hayes, Chair of the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance. 

“The Alliance applauds ATTA, ASTA, and CLIA for its socially responsible leadership, in concert with the non-profit and government sectors, in working to close down the illegal wildlife markets that are fueling the senseless killing of endangered species around the globe.”