Headline sponsor of the 2017 World Whale Conference and Whale Heritage Sites Summit
The World Cetacean Alliance is proud to announce that Virgin Holidays have been named headline sponsor of the 2017 World Whale Conference and Whale Heritage Sites Summit. This undertaking forms part of Virgin’s long term vision for a future in which tourism embraces the complex social and physical needs of cetaceans and their habitats.
David Geer, Managing Director of Virgin Holidays said;
“At Virgin Holidays we’re committed to being a business for good. We have a responsibility to our customers to ensure that the holidays we provide can create lasting memories without having a negative impact on local populations and the environment.
Wild whale watching can help support local communities and managed well, can be an amazing experience for holiday makers. That’s why we’re supporting the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) World Whale Conference in South Africa this year. We want to give our customers as much choice as possible and through working with organisations like the WCA we can ensure we’re offering responsible holiday experiences.”
Dylan Walker, CEO of the World Cetacean Alliance said;
“Virgin Holidays and the WCA share a vision for the future of responsible cetacean tourism that seeks a collaborative approach, and identifies mechanisms to solve the many challenges facing whales and dolphins today. We believe in tourism as a huge force for good, with the potential to protect whales and dolphins and their habitats for people to enjoy long into the future.
Virgin Holidays has broken new ground in its attempt to bring about positive change for cetaceans in tourism, and we anticipate that the outputs from this conference will act as a springboard for further positive collaborations with both Virgin Holidays and its suppliers.”
Working together towards responsible tourism for cetaceans
The World Cetacean Alliance and its partners, including the Born Free Foundation, Orca Research Trust, and Free Morgan Foundation, have been working with our counterparts at Virgin Holidays since 2014, when we contributed to a multi-stakeholder process to discuss concerns over the keeping of cetaceans in captivity.
That led to Virgin securing a pledge from the companies with which they work to no longer take whales and dolphins from the wild. It represented a significant step forward in terms of the future for captive whales, dolphins and porpoises.
In March 2017, Virgin Holidays extended its commitment with a five point plan and long-term vision, produced in consultation with the WCA and Born Free Foundation. This commitment included an undertaking to not sign up any new attractions that feature captive whales and dolphins for theatrical shows, support the creation of coastal sanctuaries for whales and dolphins, and offer customers more choice in the regions in which they operate, such as promoting responsible wild whale and dolphin watching and sanctuary-based experiences (when these become available).
Said Jean Michael Cousteau, Honorary President of the WCA, commenting on the 2017 Virgin Holidays announcement:
“Virgin Holidays announcement clearly sets out its vision for the future, seeks a collaborative approach, and identifies mechanisms to solve the many challenges facing whales and dolphins in tourism today. Too often this issue has lacked a catalyst for change from within the tourism sector. I believe that all whales and dolphins deserve the chance to feel the ocean, interact in the natural environment, and utilize their extraordinary sense of sound in ways they could never do in captivity. Today’s announcement is a very important milestone in our journey towards that goal.”