Two thirds (66%) of consumers from twenty-six countries say they prefer to buy products and services from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society, including Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs. Reducing the suffering of stray cats and dogs at tourist destinations is a way of giving back to society by improving the health and safety of communities and enhancing the experience of many tourists.
People flock to Caribbean and Mexican tourist destinations to enjoy their vacation, but for many travelers, encountering stray cats and dog who are starving, sick, and suffering, leaves a lasting negative impression on their travel experience, thus influencing future travel spending decisions.
Research indicates that over 4 million U.S. travelers are less likely to travel to Mexico because of concern about stray cats and dogs. This affects the whole of the travel industry including, tour operators, airlines, hotels, and local tourism bureaus that focus on generating positive word-of-mouth and maintaining repeat visits by tourists. Furthermore, many travelers named destinations where they actually refused to travel because of stray cats and dogs. Out of the travelers who indicated they avoided certain vacation spots because they saw homeless animals, Mexico was the most frequently selected country that they would not visit.
When compassionate tourists try to help strays by reporting the problem, their good intentions often lead to bad outcomes. Local governments, without funds for humane solutions, simply round up animals and kill them, by electrocution, drowning, or other painful methods.
What most tourists don’t know is that mass killings go on in numerous popular tourist destination countries before peak tourism seasons begin. These killings are conducted on a regular basis and often involve cruel strategies to kill as many strays as possible for the least amount of resources. In some areas, bounties are placed on strays with tax incentives or cash payments offered, resulting in not only strays being killed but also family pets who are sacrificed for the reward money. These mass killings may even contribute to greater population growth because the remaining animals will have access to greater resources and reproduce faster.
Yet humane solutions do exist, and CANDi is paving the way as the leader in ethical and humane travel by saving the lives of stray animals through tourism. These solutions have economic impacts far beyond just pleasing tourists; the humane management of stray cat and dog populations improves the environment by conserving biodiversity, safeguards the health and safety of tourists and tourist destination community members, protects agricultural concerns, and supports education and awareness that violence against animals leads to violence against people.
With support from the travel industry, CANDi is able to implement its programs, including the Cat Café program, which helps to humanely control the feral cat population on resort grounds.
CANDi International has recently begun a partnership with RIU Hotels and Resorts, an international hotel chain with over one hundred properties worldwide in 16 countries. RIU Hotels and Resorts opened its first Cat Café in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. In recognition of their CSR programs at travel destinations where they have properties, RIU has supported a spay/neuter event in Cancun by donating lodging for veterinarians and other volunteers coming from the U.S., Canada, and other parts of the world. These volunteers completed surgeries for more than 1,500 community animals. RIU has already publicly committed to expand the partnership with CANDi to many other destinations, including Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
Several other high profile travel companies have stepped forward to lead initiatives to help communities compassionately care for their strays. Air Transat, Canada’s leading holiday airline, carrying over 3 million passengers to nearly 60 of the world’s top tourist destinations every year, is a leading contributor to the success of CANDi International’s spay/neuter clinics at the resort destination of Cancun, Mexico. Concerned with helping the communities it serves and also aware that stray cats and dogs can affect the holiday experience of their passengers, Air Transat’s support has allowed CANDi to spay or neuter well over 10,000 thousand cats and dogs since their clinics began in 2008.
CANDi International has also partnered with the Association for Canadian Travel Agents (ACTA) to help spread the word to the association’s 14,000S travel professionals about how tourists can help stray animals abroad. ACTA came on board as a direct result of feedback from hundreds of clients.
CANDi's Economic Impact of Strays Report provides solid research on how substantial numbers of tourists are negatively affected by witnessing the suffering of stray animals at tourist destinations. CANDi’s hope is to gain the support of the tourism industry to use their global economic and political clout to make lasting and sustainable changes for stray animals at international tourist destinations.