Dear Lord Goldsmith

Request to introduce new law now to stop UK tour operators promoting elephant abuse and spread of deadly viruses to tourists

I write to you as the Government Minister responsible for the above issue. In 2019 Save The Asian Elephants (STAE) sent you the Asian Elephants (Tourism) Bill, drafted at your request. It would ban the UK advertising and sale of cruel Asian elephant related "attractions" where endangered babies and adults are snatched from the wild and tortured to "break their spirits" for easy use in tourism - riding, selfies and "tricks".

Such law is needed urgently. STAE's research now reveals over 1,000 UK companies (and rising fast) promoting hundreds of the most violent venues in the UK market through thousands of adverts. In 2018/19 2 million UK tourists visited India and Thailand. In 2016 13 million elephant rides occurred in Thailand alone.

Elephants provoked by abuse attack and kill tourists. Broken down and held in fetid close confinement elephants also transmit deadly viruses to humans such as TB and, science suggests, Covid-19 too.

"Guidelines" pushed by ABTA are vague, full of loopholes, lack any mechanism for monitoring, enforcement or sanctions for breach, are wholly voluntary, with no take up or effect. Experts who helped ABTA draft them express dismay that key advice has been excluded by ABTA in the published version, and are described as positively "dangerous" in a Covid world. ABTA as the paid mouthpiece for such operators is plainly conflicted. Indeed STAE has to date identified 106 ABTA members promoting all the most brutal venues. ABTA and its members have for years ignored requests to desist.

STAE has also recorded numerous broken promises of change, showing the futility of blandishments as a substitute for law and sanctions.

Populus polling (July 2020) shows 90% of Britons demand an immediate end to such abuse. 79% want STAE's new law now. STAE's petition has over 1 million signatures plus 31 million from aligned petitions, backed by 100 influencers and key bodies including all main SE Asian religions.

STAE's draft Bill bans UK advertising and sale of such venues, promoting only genuine sanctuaries where elephants are observed from a safe distance. DEFRA announced (Sunday Telegraph 4 April 2021) that you are to introduce such a Bill. We please urge that you act now: when travel restrictions lift UK tourists will again unwittingly contribute to such atrocities and also be exposed to grave danger.

I look forward to hearing when you are to introduce such a Bill, thank you.

Yours sincerely


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Baron Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State, DEFRA
Seacole Building
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

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