SA airport to remove cub petting images that give tourists the wrong message

OR tambo

Cape Town - A South African Tourism campaign in the halls of International Arrivals of OR Tambo, said to be about a year old, is going to be removed from one of SA's busiest airports, Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) has confirmed, admitting it sends the wrong message to arriving tourists.

Images in the campaign depict a wild African landscape, as well as a family of four sitting and playing with lion cubs - which a number of organisations have slammed as going against sustainable tourism, which aims to eradicate unethical practices. Blood Lions initially tweeted the airport, as well as new SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona about it.

In response to the complaints about the South African Tourism campaign, OR Tambo International Airport says it will remove the part that sends the wrong message and even pay for the process to do so.

"We accept that conservationists now urge tourists not to participate in the petting of young wild animals, although we had not been made aware of this at the time that the images were installed. OR Tambo International Airport will remove that panel and replace it. We are happy to offer South African Tourism and Blood Lion the opportunity to provide a suitable image that fits with the other images along that corridor and that demonstrates how lions in the wild should be viewed."  

A Blood Lions spokesperson told Traveller24, "Blood Lions welcomes and commends their swift and responsible action in this regard. A special mention should also go to the South African Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona for his immensely positive and proactive support. All parties have shown ethical leadership and have been able to base their decisions on the back of sound conservation practices and responsible tourism stands being promoted by the wider community." 

"These actions will go some way to ensuring that South Africa starts reclaiming its reputation as a promoter of ethical wildlife tourism. We call on all those operators still offering exploitative tourism products to follow the example set by SA Tourism and OR Tambo International Airport"

In December 2016, Ntshona took a bold stance against tourism products based on the exploitation of wild animals, saying he will work with sustainable tourism authorities to 'eradicate' the industry. 

"South African Tourism does not promote or endorse any interaction with wild animals such as the petting of wild cats, interacting with elephants and walking with lions, cheetahs and so on," Ntshona said in a webinar hosted by Tourism Update

SEE: New SA Tourism CEO hopes to 'eradicate' cub petting and animal interaction

"SA Tourism is in discussion with the "Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme to see how we can work more closely with them to eradicate such practices". 

READ: Con or conservation: 6 Critical questions to ask about wildlife sanctuaries 

"Our marketing efforts promote an authentic and credible tourism experience to all our tourists, and this includes an authentic wildlife experience to keep it as “wild” and natural as possible," Ntshona says.  Many sustainable and conservation-minded authorities have congratulated Ntshona on his bold stance. 

What to read next on Traveller24:

#ShockWildlifeTruths: Lions fail to get uplisted at CITES CoP17

#ShockWildlifeTruths: Call to end SA's canned lion hunting industry accepted at IUCN

PICS: Tourists treated to leopards mating right before their eyes

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