Help Stop the Promotion of Unethical Tourism (Boycott TBEX!)

By Nomadic Matt | Published July 14th, 2014

Every year, a travel bloggers conference called TBEX is held in North America. I’ve gone many times. This year, the conference is being held in Cancun, Mexico and, as part of the offering of pre-conference activities, they are offering dolphin encounter experiences where you can go play and swim with captive dolphins. When I saw this, I was shocked. Captive dolphin experiences are a mass market, irresponsible form of tourism and it’s shocking that a travel organization that often talks about responsible tourism would promote such an activity.

I don’t often take “stands” on this blog. I try to promote responsible tourism as much as possible here – from teaching people about the elephant situation in Thailand to picking sustainable tour operators to talking about greenwashing. Tourism can be a force for good and I think that, as travelers, we should leave places as we found them and support organizations that promote sustainable tourism.

And captive dolphin experiences are not that.

I’ve participated in bad tourism in the past. Before I knew better, I visited a tiger temple and rode an elephant when I started traveling. But then I educated myself and vowed never to involve myself in an animal activity without doing research first. After watching the movie The Cove and seeing the dolphin slaughter in Japan, I learned more about the issues surrounding dolphins in captivity and was appalled by what I found. To me, captive dolphin attractions are wrong for many reasons:

  • To obtain dolphins, organizations take them from the wild in inhumane dolphin hunts where they are driven close to shore and captured for dolphinariums around the world, with many killed during this process.
  • Most countries don’t have animal welfare standards, rules, or enforcement policies that ensure proper treatment and care for dolphins.
  • The average life span of a wild dolphin is up to 45 years, while dolphins in captivity last an average of 5 years. Matt’s note: Originally, the word “shorter” was supposed to be after the word “years” but missed it. Upon rechecking, while Whales.org does state they live shorter lives, I can’t find the exact amount of time.
  • Dolphins don’t perform because they just love jumping through hoops for humans, they do it because they know they get food if they do. Many marine parks keep their dolphins underfed so they will perform for their food. Dolphins preform because they get to eat.
  • Most captive dolphins are confined in minuscule tanks containing chemically treated artificial seawater that is damaging to their skin and causes all sorts of diseases. Dolphins can’t use their sonar as well and, since they swim up up to 100 miles a day, just end up swimming in a circle.
  • As highly cogitative and social creatures, dolphins don’t thrive in captivity as they are forced from their normal social hierarchy and environment.
  • I don’t believe it is right to take wild animals, especially ones as highly developed as dolphins, and put them in captivity for our entertainment. If you want to see an animal, go on a wildlife tour.

Captive dolphin exhibits take wild dolphins and forcefully put them in a park for our entertainment. These highly intelligent creatures need to be out in the wild and, even if the trainers are well-intentioned, the very act of them being in captivity is cruel and unnecessary. India recently banned these attractions, and Mexico, host of the TBEX conference, is debating a bill now to ban these attractions.

You can find more information on the following sites:

Humane Society International Statement on Attractions
Timeline of Dolphin Captivity FAQ on Captive Dolphin Attractions
Humane Society brief on marine captivity
National Geographic article on dolphin captivity

I brought this issue up in the blogger groups on Facebook. A week later, TBEX issued a response saying they weren’t a political organization and didn’t want to force an opinion on everyone. I spoke with the conference organizers and, while they are personally against this, they worry that they would be “giving in to a vocal minority.” I disagree with them since I think coming down on the side of responsible tourism is never a political statement. It’s just good tourism and ethics.

We need to show TBEX that this opinion is shared by a vocal MAJORITY and that ethical and responsible tourism is the only one worth ever being promoted, especially by an organization that bills itself as “the future of travel media.”

And to do that, I say we must BOYCOTT TBEX! (Until they remove the tours!)

Since TBEX doesn’t offer refunds on tickets, we can’t bring financial weight to bear against them but there are things we can still do to get them to change:

  1. Sign this Change.org petition I created to let them know many people feel this way and that they need to lose the tours.
  2. If you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, don’t buy one and let them know you won’t consider attending if they don’t remove these tours.
  3. If you are attending, don’t go. You can’t have a conference without people.
  4. Pressure speakers to pull out if the encounters aren’t banned. Here is a list of announced speakers.
  5. Donate to dolphin causes in order to help spread the word and get these causes shutdown. Here are some worth supporting: Save the Whales, Blue Voice, Dolphin Project.

I don’t want TBEX to be cancelled – I want them to take these activities off their schedule. But until they remove these activities, we must boycott TBEX. Their inclusion of these activities in the agenda is a de facto approval of these tours and that can’t stand. A travel organization should promote responsible tourism. We need to let them know we don’t want to be part of a travel conference that is actively promoting irresponsible tourism.

Please join me in boycotting TBEX until they remove these activities.

UPDATE 7/18: I sent the petition to TBEX. We got over 1,600 signatures. Let’s see what their response is!

UPDATE 7/30: Last week, I met with the organizers of TBEX. We both happened to be in Las Vegas so we got together to discuss “Dolphingate.” With a heavy heart, I must report that TBEX will not remove the dolphin activities from their schedule. It was always a long shot but not enough fellow bloggers (especially attendees) joined the petition. While we had over 1,700 signatures on the petition, a lot were consumers and not enough were industry. At the end of the day, if industry doesn’t pressure an industry organization, they won’t change.

I had hoped more would join and while we had a lot of people change their mind, we didn’t reach a critical mass. TBEX said they will be putting sessions into the schedule about responsible tourism. While that is a great first step, I don’t believe that goes far enough and, as such, I to boycott the event. I won’t be going and I still encourage other bloggers not to go.

I do believe that TBEX was taken aback by this backlash and will be more judicious about selecting tours in the future but this doesn’t change the situation now. We pushed them in the right direction, and we raised a lot of awareness about this issue. It’s a step in the right direction.

Short of all the speakers and sponsors dropping out, TBEX won’t change their position. I understand where TBEX’s position and our meeting was cordial. I have no ill will toward the organizers. We just greatly disagree on this issue.

At the end of the day, I can at least say we raised this issue (and the greater issue of responsible tourism) into the main discussion of travel bloggers. That’s a step in the right direction.

I won’t be attending TBEX Cancun, and if you are a blogger who believes that environmental responsibility is important, I urge you not to either.

Update 8/12 – Hi Dolphin lovers,

Some major developments:

First, The Guardian Newspaper picked up our cause: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/aug/07/travel-bloggers-call-for-conference-to-cancel-dolphin-tours

Yay! (Though the response from TBEX is sad).

Second, today TBEX announced speakers to discuss responsible tourism today: http://tbexcon.com/us/2014/08/12/responsible-travel-expert-dr-martha-honey-to-keynote-at-tbex-cancun/

This is great because we need to get these environmental tourism activists to take a stand. Having this discussion at the conference is great, especially since it is the first keynote, but Dr. Honey and blogger Bret Love from Green Global Travel (if they are as responsible as they say they are) need to say something during the conference and before about why dolphin tours are bad and how irresponsible they are. Here is what I am suggesting for action:

Email Dr. Honey and her organization CREST at [email protected] and then Bret at [email protected] and ask them to do the following:

1. Issue a statement about the inclusion of dolphin tours in the TBEX program. If these folks are into green and responsible tourism, they will be against these awful tours and they should publicly say so.

2. Speak out AT the conference during their talk and say that these tours are wrong, should be closed down, and that future TBEX events shouldn’t have captive animal tours included in the schedule.

As proponents of responsible tourism, these two speakers have a chance to educate writers and hold sway over a conference that so far as been deaf to concerns about these tours.

Update 8/13 – This morning I was woken up and made aware of this post: http://greenglobaltravel.com/2014/08/12/dolphin-tours-tbex-cancun-boycott/

In it the author states that he worked with the Cancun tourism board to get the tours removed from TBEX. Now, I have had no discussions with this guy nor do I know anyone who has but TBEX has removed the tours from their website and are promoting this post so I think it is legit.

I have emailed TBEX and Cancun for confirmation but while this article paints the picture that it was all him, the pressure we added and the fact we pushed this issue to the forefront I think it was eventually got Cancun to change their opinion. I salute the blogger for using his connections to get the ball past the finish line.

I believe we succeeded and now responsible tourism is on the agenda at TBEX.

It’s a good day for dolphins!

comments 47 Comments

Michael

Great post, great position–shame on TBEX.

Julie

Thx for taking a stand Matt

Way to take a stand, Matt. I can’t imagine calling for a boycott again TBEX will be the most popular one, but given your ethics, it’s the right one. Good on you for putting that first.

Completely agree with this Matt. The condescending and defensive responses from the organizers at the backlash that they are getting isn’t doing them any favours either. There is no justification for ANY organisation within the tourism industry to be supporting unethical and exploitative wildlife practices now, regardless of their weak justifications or claims of impartiality. Especially when they claim to represent all of us as bloggers and writers to the mainstream travel industry. They have made their position very clear, I think it is about time we did the same!

Well said, Matt. I agree wholeheartedly, not only that we shouldn’t be promoting captive dolphins, but irresponsible tourism in general. Shame on TBEX. I was debating attending the conference this year, but will refrain from doing so until they take this off the program. It’s one thing when it’s uneducated tourists but for an ‘advocacy organization’ to promote the unethical treatment of animals is NOT OKAY.

Also, for anyone who was excited about swimming with dolphins, it’s still possible. I’ve swam with spinner dolphins in Hawaii on several occasions — just grab a snorkel and some fins, it’s free and way cooler.

I completely agree with you. Animal trafficking is never okay, and the thought that a large tourism company like this has it as a listed activity, is sick. I can’t believe they are not doing what they preach! I’ve signed the petition and shared the article!

Kjersti

I’m all for responsible tourism, but I think you’re being too harsh here. While many dolphinariums should be shut down because of their lack of animal welfare, it doesn’t mean they’re all bad. That would be like saying no one should be allowed to keep dogs or ride horses because so many dogs and horses are being abused. Let’s stop the wrong people from having animals in their care, without saying they’re all horrible just for keeping animals. That’s just not fair.

Dolphins require advanced care. Far from everyone manage to give them that, and I strongly believe the number of dolphinariums in the world should go down. First of all captive dolphins should be kept in ocean pens and not in inland fish tanks.

‘The Cove’ is a heartbreaking documentary about the dolphin abuse in Japan, but I don’t agree with the filmmaker’s mission to stop all keeping of dolphins in captivity. That’s hysteric PETA logic, I’m sorry. There are websites that track every captive dolphin in the world and tells you exactly where they come from. People should stay far away from any dolphinarium with dolphins from Japan or the Solomon Islands. No dolphinarium in the western hemisphere had any dolphins from there. The captive dolphins you find in North America, Caribbean and all the rest of America are all bred in captivity or were captured in a far less traumatizing way that what you saw in ‘The Cove’. I’ve seen videoes and talked to dolphin trainers with 30 years experience about this – I feel well informed even though I haven’t witnessed capturing of dolphins first hand.

Dolphin Academy in Curacao is one of those exceptionally good dolphinariums. They train the dolphins to swim in the open ocean next to their boat, and they always follow the boat back to the aquarium. The dolphins are kept in ocean pens, get better medical attention than most humans do and they import the best fish from halfway around the world because only the best is good enough for their dolphins.

I’ve been an animal lover all my life. I’ve seen dolphins in captivity in lots of different places around the world, and I think it’s easy to tell the difference between a happy dolphin and a depressed one. I’ve seen both, and the dolphins in Curacao are the happiest I’ve ever seen.

I skipped visiting Delphinus Riviera Maya when I was in the area a few years ago, but at least I can see the dolphins there are all born in captivity in Mexico and Cuba. I can’t guarantee they’re one of the “good dolphinariums”, but according to my research online they definitely don’t seem to be among the worst.

Candace

It is the demand from captive facilities that is driving the dolphin drives/hunts in Japan. Purchasing tickets to visit dolphinariums, aquariums and participating in other captive dolphin programs such as “swimming with the dolphins” is directly supporting the slaughter of dolphins. When the buying stops, the killing can too…

NomadicMatt

A dolphinarium by it’s very nature is bad. It takes a highly intelligent, wild animals and puts it in captivity for our enjoyment. What’s responsible about that? Wouldn’t it be more responsible to let them be free and see them on wildlife excursions?

To your points:

“The captive dolphins you find in North America, Caribbean and all the rest of America are all bred in captivity or were captured in a far less traumatizing way that what you saw in ‘The Cove’.”

But they are captured from the wild. That’s the very crux of it. I believe they should not be taken from the wild – in any way.

“They train the dolphins to swim in the open ocean next to their boat, and they always follow the boat back to the aquarium.”

Because they are then trained to do so, which is wrong. They basically broke the dolphins down and made them pets.

“get better medical attention than most humans do and they import the best fish from halfway around the world because only the best is good enough for their dolphins.”

Subjective and sounds like a PR line.

“I’ve been an animal lover all my life.”

Then why want them in captivity? Wouldn’t it be better for the animals to be out free in the wild? I have no doubt you are a good person who really loves animals but it seems that there’s a bit of an inconsistency see here. It would be like saying “I love dogs and then going to watch a dog fight.” If you love dolphins, if you are the type of person who really believes in responsible tourism, take a stand with me for a world tourism organizations promote responsible dolphin tourism.

I don’t want TBEX gone, I want them to take the tours out of the program.

Kjersti

All tame animals were at one point taken from the wild, and for a lot of animals we’re not talking about that many generations ago. If you’re one of those people who think it’s wrong to keep – let’s say guinea pigs and ferrets as pets – I’m not going to argue, so we can agree to disagree.
I just don’t see how it’s that much worse to keep dolphins in captivity than horses or other animals. They require a lot of care and attention, but as long as you provide that for them and they’re healthy and happy everything’s good in my opinion. I’ve seen dolphins being well cared for and that’s why I can’t be against dolphins in captivity. It would just make me a hypocrite since I have nothing against keeping pets or even zoos and farms (again: given that the animals are being well cared for).
I don’t feel any worse about playing with a trained dolphin than with a trained dog. They are a lot alike. When I give them a command I can see the joy in their eyes the moment they remember “Oh, I know this!” and eagerly jumps around or whatever it was I asked them to do, and then get their snack as a reward (Which is a snack, not a meal as some people claim when they say that “dolphins are starved and forced to do tricks”. The meals are of course given regardless. Try training a dog by starving him and telling me how that goes). I can see how both the human and animal enjoy this sort of interaction, wheter it’s a dog or a dolphin.
By the way, we see a lot of irresponsible tourism regarding wild animals too. Jumping into the water with wild dolphins or disturbing animals in their natural habitat is not always a good idea. Or how about all the people volunteering with lion cubs in Africa and unknowingly supporting the canned hunting industry? I’m sure it’s all being done with the best of intentions, but it sure does a lot more harm to wildlife than taking a bath with some tame dolphins in the Caribbean.

Britt

There is a huge difference between keeping a dog and keeping a dolphin.
Dolphins, unlike common pets are high order animals with very high intelligence.
Their strong social hierarchy and numerous evidence points to this (there are about a million studies of this online if you just do a google search). It makes them closer to humans than dogs, and if always makes them more likely to suffer from captivity, in any form as they are cut off from the social hierarchy that is so essential to their species.

Kjersti

Candace: You’re missing the point. The dolphin killings i Taiji would take place regardless of dolphinariums. They kill thousands of dolphins each year and have been doing so long before dolphinariums came around. The end of dolphinariums would sadly not mean the end of dolphin slaughters in Japan.

I was born in Cancun and we had such a beautiful places that is a shame tbex is promoting these dolphin tours. Go visit Mayan Ruins, enjoy the turquoise water of our beaches, taste our food, go snorkeling, but as Matt mentions go for responsible tourism.

Paul

I wish people cared as much for other people as they do about animals……

NomadicMatt

Me too. Me too.

Yes, Paul makes a basic but good point. I personally put people first as a secular humanist, and there are currently so many actions by horrific regimes (in terms of their politics) being touristed while they are essentially committing genocide or serious repression on their own people or blood relatives in the name of religion, for example. No need to name names, as we all know about some of them, and the West is not exempt.

Nevertheless, animals are obviously innocent and increasingly becoming extinct or tortured for amusement or due to climate change, which affects the entire global ecosystem without which nothing can live.

I agree with you Matt, that friendly pressure should be brought to bear on those who make a huge point of advocating “responsible travel” on their websites/blogs and who are speaking — most of whom had nothing to do with this decision, of course, but can back out.

There are some valid counterarguments in the name of personal responsibility, I suppose (though not made in the TBEX missives and fence-straddling apologia), but if independent travel bloggers’ integrity is tarnished by a representative organization’s choices, it may be hard to regain the reputation in some quarters.

Please let us all keep ad hominem attacks out of this though, as it would diminish what is an important disagreement among educated people.

Years of involvement with social activism have demonstrated to me that no one is without guilt if held to standards of absolute purity. But mistakes are rectified as time and legal contracts allow by conscientious representatives.

Adrienne Morton

ME TOO

I agree as well. We can treat both people and animals with respect. Just because we care for animals doesn’t mean we don’t care for people.

Thanks For Sharing Your Thoughts.To obtain dolphins, organizations take them from the wild in inhumane dolphin hunts where they are driven close to shore and captured around the world, with many killed during this process.

And I thought hosting it in Cancun was bad…

NomadicMatt

Hahaha! Good point!

We live in a country where individuals have freedoms. Individuals can do what they want with their personal property. I may not agree with what they are doing. But I don’t believe I have the right to make this organization do what I want them to do. I may choose not to visit their attractions. I will not attack them for running a legal business

I agree, Matt! I live in Central Florida near Sea World in Orlando. Even after the horrible information that came out in the documentary Blackfish about the abuse of killer whales and their trainers, the teachers on the seventh-grade team at our middle school chose to take our students there on their annual field trip. I was incensed! What are we teaching our children for the sake of entertainment?

Whoah this is horrible! I hadn’t seen the full program yet but this is very sad and I think you are absolutely doing the right thing by ‘taking a stand’ publicly. I am still having trouble understanding that TBEX would offer this..! Let’s hope they will change their program and be wiser next time.

Well done Matt! More people need to take a stance on this. I am really surprised that a swim with captive dolphins is something they offer. Many travel bloggers seem to have an interest in the the environment/diving so I hope people take a stand. I will go and sign your petition. I am originally from the UK and we have no captive dolphins or whales there. After Black Fish, Cove etc I was really hoping more countries would follow but, when conferences like this actually support it, it doesn’t seem too hopeful. Thanks for standing up!

Jenny

I really admire you taking a stand, Matt. A lot of people would hesitate to call others out but it’s something that must be done. I’ve never thought about this issue, as I’ve never been to a place where you can swim with dolphins, and the only zoo I ever go to, they’ve really cared for their animals. I do believe dolphins are extremely intelligent and I feel bad for them being mistreated and killed. They should live for longer in captivity than in the wild.. or else something is very wrong. Is there any way to keep them in captivity so people can see them without harming them? I hate that they’re so stressed and bored that they literally die of it… They’re too majestic to suffer. Humans would be the same if they were in captivity.

Carla

I would also boycott all Bull related activities in Spain, I just don´t know how they are still that popular between tourists, how many people still go to “San Fermin” or go to plazas to see bullfighting… it just pisses me off

Shocking stuff and almost unbelievable that a travel blogging conference would even involve themselves in such activities at all…

Captive dolphin shows, even those that claim to be industry leaders, do not come close to providing for the full range of needs for these intelligent and sociable animals. They are denied adequate space and environmental complexity, not to mention the freedom to express their natural behaviours and preferences.

As a result these large, wide-ranging carnivores commonly develop problems such as abnormal repetitive behaviour patterns and aggression when confined in captivity. Science confirms that the captive environment is no place for whales and dolphins and their exploitation in these water circuses must end. This is a debate that is hotting up.

Please Travel Bloggers Exchange, reconsider your plans and do not visit or promote captive dolphin facilities. Support the actions of the Born Free Foundation (www.bornfree.org.uk) to end these water circuses!

Of interest to all who have voiced an opinion on this subject, we’ll be hosting a Hangout on Air with various animal welfare and captivity experts, a Mexican politician driving legislation against captive marine mammal exhibitions and vocal travel bloggers, Mike Huxley and Diana Edelman. All are very welcome.

What: Tourism and Captive Marine Animals: Ethics and Practices (a Google+ Hangout on Air hosted by Outbounding)

When: Tuesday, April 29, 12-1pm EDT

Where: https://plus.google.com/events/c1ufpjipo7qcire6i8ef8sk0e98

Be sure to open the full description under Details for a roster of speakers, the issues to be addressed and some important background.

Further discussion: http://outbounding.org/discussion/view/help-stop-the-promotion-of-unethical-tourism-boycott-tbex

Matt, Really sorry to hear about that update. As you say it was always a long shot. Money and industry talks at the end of the day.

But at least what we are doing is getting people talking! I seriously doubt anyone would be doing so if not for our posts and this petition (although I suspect you are right that TBEX organisers were caught on the back foot by the strength of the backlash!)

I am still not attending TBEX either this year, and I will continue to raise this issue.

I only discovered this today, it’s very sad that the petition didn’t work, I really do hope that it highlights this stance for the future, more and more travellers are waking up to animal welfare and ethical travel, and as travellers we have the power to change things by highlighting them, word of mouth and boycotting them.

Thank you for trying and making a stand.

Such disappointing news that TBEX doesn’t intend to change it’s view on this…though I wholly suspect that even if you’d encouraged a lot more industry to sign the petition it never would have been quite enough i.e. their mind was set. I’m personally disgusted that TBEX Cancun will include the captive dolphin excursions and I am boycotting the event as a result – which is crazy given I’ll be in Mexico (or close by). Well done to you and Michael Huxley at least for trying. Anybody up for a covert operation to free the dolphins?! :)

Beto

Guilty as charged for falling into the “swim with dolphins” tourist trap in Cancun some years ago (family trip, they wanted to go, and I didn’t know better). I did see how the dolphin swim thing is BIG business over there – and as long as money keeps pouring in, that won’t be changing anytime soon. At least, the dolphinarium we went to was right in the ocean, not in an artificial tank, and seemed well cared for… but still, the thought of confining animals for our own egotistical entertainment distresses me, and if they’re better off being free in the ocean, then so be it. (I’m not too fond of zoos either, for the same reason).

Great that you have drawn attention to this Matt. Hope those who are going to Cancun will now think twice before participating in this tour and therefore promoting it. We took our kids to swim with the dolphins in Hawaii several years ago and it was a mistake. I’m not doubting the care they receive, but to have these intelligent animals captive in such a relatively small pool is very sad. To compare them to domestic dogs is ridiculous at this point in time. Dogs have been domestic for thousands of years, and at least my dog gets taken out for walks and a good run regularly.

Kate

I fully support what you’re trying to do here Matt and I think it’s so disappointing that so many people within the travel industry are supporting irresponsible tourism by signing up to these awful captive dolphin ‘shows’. At least I know which ‘travel bloggers’ (speakers in particular) I won’t support in the future.
Hopefully they will reconsider what tours they include for the next TBEX, because the organisers have pissed a lot of people off with this.
Well done for bringing this to our attention, I only wish our voices had been a bit louder.

15 years ago I wanted to take my kids to a dolphin swim, but could not afford it. Now I am glad we did not do it. Dolphins should not be treated like this and one day we will all be appalled that we did this.

Peter

I tend to agree with the earlier comments about properly sourced, well cared-for, domesticated animals in a partnership with people, as service animals, farm animals, for companionship, and yes, for food.

In a topic related to responsible tourism but unrelated to dolphins, I wonder about the carbon footprint of long-term nomadic travel, especially numerous jet flights. Matt may have addressed this in the past, but it seems to me that thousands of jetting nomads, and the carbon emissions related to that, create a far larger environmental impact than the dolphin issue. I realize it’s possible to buy offsets, but that adds costs and how many actually do it? I only mention this because when we start heading down this path, there are many environmental and ethical issues one can consider.

While I am in NO way supporting or condoning cruelty to animals, have we ever thought of our own practises? I can’t fight for such a cause because I would otherwise consider myself a hypocrite – I am not a vegetarian which makes me think how many animals suffered and were slaughtered for my own selfish satisfaction? I think we’re forgetting most of us make poor, irresponsible, unsustainable choices everyday and if you eat meat like I do, how does this give us credibility to call someone else out on animal cruelty?

Adrienne Morton

Cristina, you make a GREAT POINT. NOBODY HAS TO EAT MEAT. Yet who am I to say that when I live thriving on seafood? Talk about 50 Shades of Grey Areas….who has feeling? How were we raised? To value what? Where are lines drawn and why?? Its so complicated and personal. I just hope we are all prepared to answer for ourselves and that we are ALL asked to answer these questions.
Adrienne Morton

Adrienne Morton

Matt,
I am so proud of you for all your efforts. I have seen the trailer for The Cove but not the movie, and after reading this amazeballs post (REALLY well written- I can tell that just a writer, first of all, you took special care with your skill set here, and BRAVO) I will see the movie asap. I felt a certain amount of shame while reading this for every time I’ve ever smiled at seeing dolphins do tricks in fancy hotel pools when in lived in Hawaii. I would like to use that shame and turn it into activism. Thank you for this amazingly well-intentioned and well-written post. It’s truly, truly inspiring.

Mindy Fulner

Matt, I’m not a travel blogger, just a travel blog consumer. As such, I’d like to know which bloggers joined your boycott, and which ones are still going to participate in this awful event. I suppose I could dig up a list of speakers online, but we will probably only be able to figure out who attended once they start blogging about it. Would you feel comfortable sharing which bloggers joined you in your boycott? If I’m not already following those, I’d like to start, as I very much appreciate their integrity. Also, I’d like to tell you how much I admire your commitment to good and your strength of character.

Hi Mindy, I’m not sure if Matt will be able to release peoples’ names but I am happy to let you know that I opposed the dolphin tours. I was not actually going to TBEX (I am a relatively new blogger and am based on the other side of the world) but had I been planning to go, this would have stopped me. I am 100% against the keeping of cetaceans in captivity.

You know my opinions on this Matt. :) It sucks that we didn’t get a better result but I am really proud and grateful to you for launching this effort. I hope that in future these conferences will rethink supporting these activities, and I hope that more bloggers will be more vocal about these issues.

I just want to say thanks, Matt, for taking the unpopular position and pushing this issue. I am severely disappointed in the lack of response from our blogging colleagues, especially those that tout themselves as responsible tourism advocates. I had never planned to attend TBEX Cancun anyways, but this whole issue will weigh heavily on my decision to ever participate in any of their future events.

Come to Cancun or PDC at the time of TBEX and don’t go there. We travel bloggers should hold an unconference at locally popular restaurants, bars, beaches and other noteworthy sites to keep the core of the event intact: for travel bloggers and industry people to hang out with each other, make friends, and form professional relationships.

While I won’t be buying a ticket, I’ll be in the area during TBEX … would be great to meet you Matt, as well as other big name travel bloggers! :)

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