Connect with us


New business model proposed for elephant attractions



Canadian-based World Animal Protection has released details of their plan to sign a MoU that will “remove all physical interaction between tourists and elephants” at the Chiang Mai elephant camp.

The Happy Elephant Care Valley is about to launch into a landmark agreement that will transform it into a “truly elephant-friendly” tourist attraction.

The animal welfare charity says changing the business model will ensure the venue meets the growing demand for responsible elephant tourism.

Backing the World Animal Protection initiative is a global coalition of travel companies that previously promoted elephant ride camps in their tour programs sold through retail travel agency networks.

Today, they are staunch supporters of the campaign to end elephant rides. Members of the coalition include TUI Group, The Travel Corporation, Intrepid Group, G Adventures, EXO Travel and Thomas Cook Group.

Elephant camps in Thailand that have around 3,500 elephants under their care are being encouraged to adopt a new business model that does not include rides on the back of elephants for commercial benefit.

Experts say the sustainable business model starts by charging visitors a fee to observe elephants. Most elephant parks charge for just the ride then allow free ‘hanging around’ and observing elephants in their stables or waiting areas.

Opinion remains divided with some travel company leaders saying Thailand’s domestic elephants have been ridden for centuries, without causing physical harm.

Tour companies claim that WAP are forcing these changes onto other countries and other cultures in a way that makes them feel better, but does not benefit the elephants or the people who have been running elephant tour businesses for decades.

In its latest assessment the charity claims thousands of captive elephants, at venues across Thailand, are still used for rides. They also claim the proud animals are submissive only because of a cruel regimen that starts with the young calves and continues into adulthood.

A 2017 KANTAR global poll showed 44% of respondents still believe riding elephants is okay. However, that was a decline of 9% when compared with a previous survey three years earlier when 53% said riding elephants was acceptable.

The poll also shows that more than 80% of tourists would prefer to see elephants in their natural environment, proving elephant-friendly tourism is on the rise.

The elephants at Happy Elephant Care Valley were previously from farms and riding camps. Until recently it was possible for close interaction between tourists and the elephants at the venue, with tourists being able to ride (bare-back), bathe and feed elephants. This is a similar experience to some elephant camps in Phuket and Phang Nga which have set up sanctuaries for elephants – not allowing rides but providing opportunities for close interaction between paying tourists and the elephants.

The Chiang Mai Happy Elephant Care Valley owners have now agreed to end the practice after the travel industry coalition presented a business case demonstrating the rise of elephant-friendly tourism.

The transition will see the elephants eventually enjoying an environment that allows them to behave as they would in the wild; free to roam the valley, graze and bathe in rivers as tourists standing at a safe distance but able to enjoy the natural experience. But without any direct contact with humans.

(SOURCE: World Animal Protection)


Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

If you have story ideas, a restaurant to review, an event to cover or an issue to discuss, contact The Thaiger editorial staff.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand12 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Thais more relaxed about Covid-19

Bangkok12 hours ago

‘Win’ motorbike taxi drivers protest against GrabBike in Bangkok, Thailand

World12 hours ago

China not cod-ing about its zero Covid policy as it tests fish

Travel12 hours ago

Affordable but stylish hotels in Koh Samui for your next holiday

Thailand12 hours ago

Female soldier seeks help after being abused by senator’s wife

Crime13 hours ago

2 fake monks make up to 40k baht per day scamming villagers in northern Thailand

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Crime14 hours ago

Man stabs wife’s secret lover to death in rice paddy in central Thailand

Thailand14 hours ago

Thailand movie legend Sombat Metanee has died, aged 85

Crime15 hours ago

Teen soldier murders cousin for allegedly raping his mother

Video15 hours ago

Thaiger Unfiltered

World15 hours ago

Monkeypox victims told to avoid animals after pet dog is infected

Thailand16 hours ago

Elephant rips mahout’s body in half in southern Thailand

Thailand17 hours ago

2 men on a motorcycle rob a gas station in Chon Buri

Thailand17 hours ago

PM Prayut suggests studying Buddhism to cope with rising electricity bills in Thailand

Thailand18 hours ago

Indian man arrested for smuggling 17 live animals out of Thailand

Thailand11 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism1 year ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11