One big force in the travel industry, Southwest Airlines, did what was right as a good corporate citizen (or at least was worried about a brand hit), and is ending ties with SeaWorld after a 26-year relationship. Others in the travel industry see only dollar signs.
With attendance down at its U.S. theme parks, due in part to criticism over its treatment of killer whales, SeaWorld is pushing hard to get travel agents to help fill the gap.
SeaWorld national sales director Thomas Valley, for example, is slated to be the featured speaker for a SeaWorld webinar for travel agents hosted by Travel Weekly.
Scheduled for September 9, 2014, the webinar follows previous ones conducted by the duo in February and March.
One difference in the September 9 webinar, which follows SeaWorld admitting for the first time in August that the Blackfish documentary and adverse publicity about its treatment of orcas cut into attendance, is that SeaWorld is offering a prize to “one lucky attendee,” a free ticket into any SeaWorld Park other than Discovery Cove in Orlando.
“Travel Weekly and SeaWorld invite you to discover all the thrilling updates at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment,” a Travel Weekly email states. “Thomas Valley, National Director of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, will present all the essential information you need to entice your client’s curiosity and excitement! Learn how to book tickets, receive commissions on our [SeaWorld’s] travel agent website.”
In an initiative to improve its standing with the public, SeaWorld unveiled plans to build larger tanks for the whales.
Travel Weekly’s promotion of SeaWorld follows Southwest Airline’s decision to cut promotional ties to SeaWorld at the end of 2014 after 26 years, although Mark Travel, which operates Southwest Vacations, continues to promote the theme park company.
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Photo credit: Demonstrators from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protest against a killer whale's injury outside SeaWorld in San Diego October 3, 2012. Mike Blake / Reuters