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Study our free online course to learn more about Responsible Elephant-based Tourism

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

ACES is thrilled to launch a world-first free online training course for the travel industry and consumers to help raise awareness about captive elephant welfare and responsible tourism practice in southeast Asia.

The ACES course Regenerative travel: Responsible Travel for Elephant-Based Tourism in Southeast Asia, available for free from Atingi, is designed for travel trade professionals, tour operators, destination marketing consultants, elephant camps, and government tourism representatives, travellers, journalists and anyone who wants to learn about southeast Asian elephant tourism.


We’re working with the travel trade and tourism industry as they have a key role in enabling travellers to make informed choices about which venues to visit, which in turn influences more elephant owners to implement higher standards of animal welfare.

Elephant-based tourism remains one of southeast Asia’s most popular experiences. But with its many sensitivities, it can be a challenging activity for tour operators and travel trade professionals to confidently support and promote to their customers.

The course highlights both the positive and negative aspects of elephant-based tourism. It takes around an hour to complete and covers topics such as local culture, environmental values, community development, species conservation, animal cruelty and responsible tourism marketing.

To access the course click here. Alternatively go to Atingi and register your details. Once registered, search for the word ‘elephant’. Our Regenerative Travel: Responsible Travel for Elephant-Based Tourism in Southeast Asia course will be available for you complete at your leisure.

Expert and industry feedback

We’re delighted that both our work and the course have won the support of world leading elephant expert Dr Janine Brown, Research Physiologist at the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. Dr Brown has published numerous studies on captive Asian elephants and said, “ACES is critical to ensuring responsible elephant tourism and supporting venues that are doing the right thing”.

We’ve also received great feedback from John Roberts, Group Director of Sustainability & Conservation, Minor Hotels and Director of Elephants & Conservation, Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation.

“The underlying problems of elephant welfare stem from many factors and occur whether an elephant meets tourists or not. This module helps remind us of this fact and shows us how well managed elephant tourism can be used as a tool to address the welfare issues inherent in the captive situation”, he said.

“It is also useful to introduce the tourism professional to how much an elephant camp is part of the local community and how many human livelihoods depend on providing the best welfare to captive elephants”.

Why the course is so important

Our team at ACES are experts in captive elephant welfare and elephant conservation. From our work with tourism operators and national tourism bodies across southeast Asia we know that the allure of human-elephant experiences in the region continues to be strong.

Elephant-based tourism is complex, but elephant venues bring essential income to remote areas, and also play a significant role in conservation, culture and community identification. We also know that accredited, high-quality elephant-based experiences can significantly improve visitor knowledge and education around the threats facing wild elephants in southeast Asia.

As an organisation dedicated to the welfare of captive elephants, we understand that many animal rights groups are strongly opposed to elephant captivity and tourism experiences. We think it’s right that industries that work with animals must be scrutinised, however, while done with good intentions, we know that blanket bans on elephant activities can actually drive visitors to venues that are unregulated and have a low standard of care.

With the tourism industry’s help we can ensure that stakeholders and travellers are able to make informed decisions about the elephant activities and venues they choose.

Key facts

Asian elephants are classified as an endangered species and are at risk of extinction. The key threats facing wild elephant populations are a lack of suitable habitat, poaching and human-elephant conflict.

  • There are around 5,000 elephants living under human care in southeast Asia. Many were born in captivity and for a variety of reasons, cannot be released into the wild.

  • Elephant-based tourism has grown considerably over the past 30 years. Typical elephant-human visitor experiences include elephant riding, trekking, viewing and feeding.

  • Tourism venues are more likely to have the existing infrastructure, experience and veterinary expertise to be hubs for conservation and population management.

  • Over the last two decades Thailand and other southeast Asian nations have implemented improved elephant legislation, regulation and welfare standards.

  • ACES is an independent and internationally recognised certification body for elephant venues throughout southeast Asia. To achieve ACES certification elephant camps and venues are vigorously assessed against 193 welfare standards developed from expert findings, evidence-based research and camp management best practice.


  • ACES developed both this training course and the as part of the Pacific Asia Tourism Association (PATA) Tourism Destination and Resilience project funded by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

  • With many elephant camps now reopening after Covid-19, our team is increasing its engagement with the travel industry and elephant venues to continue to raise elephant welfare standards in southeast Asia.

Complete the course and help raise awareness

To complete the free Regenerative travel: Responsible Travel for Elephant-Based Tourism in Southeast Asia course please click here.

Contact us

For more information about the course, the 2022 Regional Elephant-Based Tourism Strategy or any of our activities please email us at

You can also follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for regular news and information.

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