The customer is always right and when the customer says no killer-whale shows, ticket sales stop.

Huge UK tour operator Thomas Cook is taking a stand against tourism attractions that keep killer whales in captivity by refusing to sell their tickets from next summer. The most well-known of these is SeaWorld in Florida, for which Thomas Cook sells thousands of day-trip tickets each year. The ban will also include Loro Parque in Tenerife, Spain; Marineland of Antibes, France; and Miami Seaquarium in the US.

The company's animal welfare policy introduced 18 months ago, reflects the changing views of their customers. As a result, 29 animal attractions have been removed from its books, with all required to pass an audit by the UK trade association. The killer-whale venues passed the audit but, nevertheless, the decision was made to drop them.

Whale Shark of a Time

In more big-marine-creatures-news, a new study published by the Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines, Marine Megafauna Foundation and Tubbataha Management Office has revealed that 17 tagged and monitored whale sharks stayed within the archipelago over a year.

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This is significant because the area's whale shark population is the world's third largest aggregation of the highly endangered species. You can swim responsibly with the amazing creatures — the world's biggest fish — at Tubbataha, a protected Unesco World Heritage Site in the Philippines; La Paz, Mexico; Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia; and
the Maldives.

Shining a light on human rights

A new US-based travel agency staffed mostly by former humanitarian workers aims to use tourism and travellers as a new tool in the fight for human rights.

Justice Travel has partnered human rights activists, community leaders and journalists to offer long and short tours in the turbulent countries of Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico in a bid to exchange ideas and encourage new ways of thinking. Juan Orjuela Alvarez, the country representative for Colombia, told the Independent in the United Kingdom that human rights activism needs new "actors" and methods.

"We believe travel and travellers are part of this," he said. "Travellers care about the places and communities they visit, and have ideas, energy and networks. We should make the
most of this."

The success of Justice Travel's objectives will depend on whether guests continue advocacy after their holidays are a distant memory, but with the world becoming more aware, the chances are higher than ever. Read more at Justice.travel.

Harnessing the sun

Hawaii's Daniel K. Inouye International Airport has announced plans to make the most of Honolulu's 270 days of sunshine by installing more than 4200 solar panels on its carpark at Terminal 1 by December. Terminal 2's carpark will be next, with a goal of 21,000 solar panels across all of the state's airports. Nearly 100,000 light fixtures at the Honolulu airport will be replaced with LEDs. The initiatives is hoped to halve its electricity bill.

Other airports using solar panels include Cochin International Airport in Kerala, India, and George Airport in Western Cape, South Africa. London's Gatwick Airport uses 100 per cent renewable energy and is proudly carbon neutral. As well as advocating electric car rental, Gatwick has the world's first airport waste management plant to turn cabin waste into energy on-site.

Plastic is not fantastic

The Walt Disney Company is the latest major corporation to announce it will stop using single-use plastic straws and plastic stirrers at its venues across the world. The numbers are staggering: this will save more than 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers per year. It has also pledged to eliminate polystyrene cups, introduce refillable in-room amenities in its hotels and cruise ships and reduce the numbers of plastic bags at its parks and on its ships.