11 January 2009

Tour company boycotts Atlantis until it releases whale shark

A German tour company is boycotting Atlantis Hotel until it agrees to release a whale shark from its aquarium. "I have told my clients that I am not willing to support this tragedy. Most of my clients booked either a different hotel or a different destination," said Manager Thomas Lohrer.

Atlantis, which has been holding the 13ft female whale shark since late August, has not yet returned calls seeking a date for when the shark will be released.

Atlantis boycotted
www.zawya.com 11 Jan 09;

A German tour company is boycotting Atlantis Hotel until it agrees to release a whale shark from its aquarium.

Frankfurt-based tour company Takeoff Reisen, which organises holidays for thousands of Germans each year, said it is refusing customer requests for booking at the hotel until the "tragedy" ends.

Manager Thomas Lohrer told 7DAYS that the company had received numerous requests for Atlantis but he refused to make a reservation.

"I have told my clients that I am not willing to support this tragedy. Most of my clients booked either a different hotel or a different destination," Lohrer said.

Atlantis, which has been holding the 13ft female whale shark since late August, has not yet returned calls from the World Wildlife Fund or 7DAYS seeking a date for when the shark will be released.

It said that the shark was found floundering in shallow water and is being held at the world's largest hotel aquarium while its health is monitored.

However, a Facebook group called Set The Whale Shark Free From The Atlantis Aquarium Dubai has called for the shark's immediate release and has attracted more than 19,000 supporters.

Whale sharks are listed as a "threatened" species under international law and their trade is prohibited under the CITES agreement on the protection of endangered species.

Whale sharks are filter feeders and so do not eat other fish, making them an ideal tourist attraction at the aquarium, which houses over 60,000 other fish.

7DAYS previously reported that singer Kylie Minogue had been dropped from the list of celebrity supporters of animal charity Marine Connection because she sang at Atlantis' launch party in November.

Marine Connection was angered by Atlantis' detention of the whale shark and its decision to keep dolphins.

By Sean O'Driscoll

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