Wildlife charity Born Free is lending its expertise to helping British Airways Holidays customers make informed decisions about their choice of hotels

BA PEOPLE • October 2019

The Guru

Claire Bentley
Claire Bentley

British Airways Holidays' Managing Director

A new partnership between British Airways Holidays and international wildlife charity Born Free has resulted in the launch of an industry-leading animal welfare policy. The Club caught up with the travel company’s managing director, Claire Bentley, to find out more about the initiative and how customers can get involved

How did the collaboration with Born Free come about?
With its British heritage, global outlook and travel-relevant focus, Born Free is a natural partner for us to work with on animal welfare matters. After initial conversations over a year ago, we agreed that our shared beliefs were a perfect fit for collaboration. Our partnership was officially launched this summer following extensive work on building our new animal welfare policy.

What does it mean for customers?
As a result of the expert guidance we’ve been given by Born Free, we have updated BA.com so that any hotels which keep wild animals onsite in captivity are clearly labelled. This allows our customers to make fully informed decisions on the holidays they choose. We’re proud to lead the industry with this initiative. We have also removed from the website any attractions where animals are central to the experience.

What prompted British Airways Holidays to take such a bold stance?
We’re in support of the charity’s vision that all wild animals – whether living in captivity or in the wild – are treated with compassion and respect. We know that this is a subject close to the hearts of many of our customers, with 80%* of the UK public agreeing that travel companies should stop selling tickets to attractions keeping whales and dolphins in captivity for entertainment. So it was clear that this was the right thing to do. 

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What else does the partnership involve?
With our support Born Free has launched a new global online alert system. Raise the Red Flag gives customers the opportunity to report captive animal suffering, while also raising awareness of sites animal lovers may want to avoid. In addition we committed to supporting Born Free on the creation of a new sanctuary space for rescued lions at the Panthera Africa Cat Sanctuary in South Africa. The first animals are due to arrive at the 40-hectare site in October. In their new home, the lions will be able to spend the rest of their lives in safety, surrounded by the sights and sounds of their natural habitat. That really is something to be proud of.

What response have you had to the initiative?
Our approach to animal welfare and this new policy have been heralded as ‘industry leading’. It has also been well-received by both our staff and customers, which we’re thrilled about.

How will the partnership with Born Free develop?
We’ve made a long-term commitment to support Born Free. We’re also continuing to advise our hotel partners that we believe the most appropriate place for wild animals is in their natural environment and that we would welcome a future change in their approach. During those conversations we have shared guidance from Born Free, outlining how hotels may choose to explore retiring existing animals and rehoming them in the best possible environment.

Interview by Dan Mobbs

*Based on an independent study by the Born Free Foundation

This article has been tagged BA, Hotels