Santa's Lapland Animal Welfare Policy

Animal Welfare Policy

Animal Protection Policy 2023


Our stance on animal protection

Hotelplan Ltd. will never knowingly compromise the welfare of any animal for the purpose of our holidays, experiences and excursions. We want to protect animals and their natural environments, or otherwise contribute towards the best possible welfare standards for animals kept in captive environments.

We want wildlife to be wild and nature to be natural

Hotelplan Ltd. wants to offer authentic, enriching experiences, which benefit our customers, local and indigenous communities, the natural environment and its wildlife. Animal interactions sit at the heart of many of our holidays, therefore it is our responsibility to have an animal protection policy that is robust, clear and well communicated to ensure that all experiences are ethical and responsible and involves zero exploitation of animals or local communities.
We created our Animal Protection Policy in 2023 alongside charity partner Wild Welfare and responsible animal tourism consultants ANIMONDIAL.
These guidelines are to help staff, suppliers, and customers to understand our stance, monitor the welfare of animals, and enable us all to make informed decisions and holiday responsibly alongside some of our greatest natural wonders.

Animal Welfare and Protection

Animal welfare refers to the physical and mental state of the animal. Together with our suppliers, we are responsible for an animal if we use, interact, supply, own or are in charge of it. Hotelplan Ltd. follows the internationally recognised Five Domains model for good animal welfare.
Hotelplan Ltd. understands that the welfare of an animal is paramount, whether that be in a natural or captive environment, and that human activity may also have a negative impact on the natural environment too. For that reason, we have an Animal Protection Policy that seeks to protect both the welfare of animals and their natural environment as a whole.

Protection Procedures

We actively encourage our customers and staff to report any instance where animal welfare or protection may have been compromised. You can report any instances by emailing
We will investigate the complaint immediately, both internally with our supply chain and seeking advice from animal protection experts.
We will work with our suppliers to make any necessary changes, educating and learning from each other about what has happened and how we can make improvements.
If there is not significant improvement, or if improvement isn’t possible, we will change suppliers for that interaction or remove it altogether. Everyone must be given a chance to improve so that collectively, across the industry, we can improve welfare, protection and understanding.
We will continually review our product selection criteria as and when new evidence comes to light and each year we aim to independently audit all our animal interactions. Effective animal and nature protection is a journey, and we will always endeavour to act quickly and make balanced decisions.


Animal: Hotelplan Ltd. will use “animal” to refer to any living creature; vertebrate or invertebrate, land or sea dwelling. The only exception to this is humans.
Animal experience: Refers to any planned activity or observation, where the animal was the sole purpose of visit. It does not imply physical contact with an animal, and does not differentiate between wild or domestic animals.
Bushmeat: Refers to meat from any wild animal not kept in a captive environment. We do not classify fish or livestock as bushmeat.

Community animals: Feral/stray and companion animals (or pets). Many countries don’t have pets confined in homes or gardens and they are free to roam.

Culture: The way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time.

Domestic animals: have been selectively bred and genetically adapted over generations to live alongside humans. They are genetically distinct from their wild ancestors or cousins. Animal domestication falls into three main groupings: domestication for companionship (dogs and cats), animals farmed for food (livestock such as sheep, cows, pigs etc.), and working or draft animals (equids, such as horses and donkeys and camelids).

Farmer’s markets: This has been separated from wildlife market and refers to markets where there might be livestock trading (farmers markets), fish markets, vegetable markets or produce markets.
Five Domains model: A concept which considers nutrition, environment, physical health and behaviour which together uphold the mental health of the animal. Examples include access to clean water, appropriate nutritious food, opportunities to carry out natural behaviours in a natural environment, and where an animal is under human care, to provide veterinary care. All animals have these needs, regardless of their living environment.

Husky: A generic term for a dog trained to pull a sled. We recognise they are an ever changing cross of different dog breeds known for their cold-weather tolerance, overall hardiness and racing potential.
Livestock: A category of domestic animals which are farmed for food. Examples include cows, goats, sheep, pigs and buffalo.

Living environment: This term encompasses where the animal lives. It may refer to a captive environment where the animal is reliant on humans, or a wild environment where the animal is free.
Natural environment: We use the term natural environment to refer to nature or natural landscapes, specifically including all of its non-human characteristics and processes. It is used as a broad term to talk about the interrelationships between different animal and plant species (their habitats and ecosystems) and our want to cause as little disruption as possible to these natural systems.
Wild: Refers to an animal or plant, not domesticated or cultivated. It may be in a natural environment or a captive environment.

Wildlife: Refers to all animal and plant species that naturally live in the wild.

Wildlife markets: Refers to markets that sell wild animals, their parts or products. This includes for food and their sale as pets. The markets themselves may be legal but may sometimes illegally offer threatened species alongside other species.


Domestic Animals Policy

Domesticated animals can often be handled by humans more easily than wild or working animals, although their welfare and protection is of equal importance. Any domesticated animal on our holidays which you may choose to hold, have a photo taken with, ride, or simply stroke must be under constant supervision of their owner or keeper.

Wild Animals and Wildlife Policy

We believe the experiences on our holidays should be natural and authentic, allowing wildlife to be wild, and nature to be natural. We want to protect the world around us by not jeopardising the wellbeing of living things by interrupting their natural processes, behaviours and surroundings. We do not condone picking flowers, removing seeds, collecting shells or touching coral.
Sometimes the impacts we have are not visible, and we know that human interactions with wildlife, be that in a natural or captive environment, can cause distress or reduce survivability incrementally. We understand that wild animals may initiate contact on occasion, and this is acceptable provided the animal(s) is not encouraged to do so by enticing them with food or objects. Animals should have the freedom of choice and the ability to move away.
Hotelplan Ltd. does not promote visits to wildlife markets, nor does it condone performances or shows involving wild animals and unnatural behaviours on any of our holidays.

Working Animals Policy

Hotelplan Ltd. recognises that various animals can be used as working animals, however we will only refer to domesticated equine (horses, donkeys, mules), camelids (camels, llamas, alpacas and vicuna), huskies and reindeer as those acceptable to be used within tourism. In support of the local indigenous people and culture in Lapland, reindeer are the only genetically wild animal we recognise as being acceptable to use in a working capacity.
We believe working animals should have a decent life, where their welfare during work and when at rest is properly cared for and considered. Please see the “ABTA Animal Welfare Guidelines for Working Animals” for more details. Any concerns raised by staff, guests or through our auditing process will always be investigated and improvements continually sought before changing suppliers.
On our holidays, guests only have the opportunity to interact with the following animals in a working capacity:

Riding animals: We will only offer horses for riding as part of our included or optional excursions. It will never be acceptable to ride wild animals on any of our holidays.

Draft animals: We do use draft animals on some holidays; animals which use a harness attached to a cart or sled. The animals we can use include horses, donkeys/mules, huskies and reindeer.

Pack animals: These are defined as animals which carry weight on their back, excluding humans. Examples include the transportation of luggage or equipment to support treks. The animals we can use include horses, donkeys/mules and camels.
We never condone the use of pregnant, nursing, injured animals, or animals younger than 3 years old (equids) and 4 years old (camelids), in a working capacity within tourism.

Hotelplan Ltd. does not encourage guests to be in direct contact (for example, touching or feeding) with any draft or pack working animals whilst they are working. We acknowledge that any handling of working animals should be conducted by a trained professional and any interaction with guests should only take place where professionals are present. This extends to reindeer and huskies. We recognise that the working animals on our excursions are primarily bred and trained to work and their behaviour around humans may be unpredictable.

Policy on Commercialisation of Animals

Hotelplan Ltd. seeks to ensure that the use, harvesting and trade in animals and their parts is sustainable, safe and legal, preventing overexploitation, and minimising impacts on natural environment and local and indigenous people.
We therefore do not promote or otherwise encourage the sale of wild animals, their parts or products for souvenirs, unless the item or product is naturally shed, at no harm or use to the animal, or is a by-product from the humane slaughter of an animal for meat. For example, reindeer antler that is annually, naturally shed and collected, or from pelts (skins) as a by-product. We ask our customers to only purchase souvenirs that are sustainable and naturally sourced.

Hotelplan Ltd. believe endangered and vulnerable species should be protected and we do not offer or promote the consumption of these animals, regardless of local laws and customs.

We do not offer any animal hunting experiences on any of our holidays, this includes fishing.

We recognise that you may encounter taxidermy in our accommodations and on excursions, especially in Alpine regions, however this is not something that we directly encourage.

Policy on Indigenous Communities

At Hotelplan UK, we want to continually support and enrich the lives of local and indigenous communities, sharing their stories and ensuring they benefit from tourism activities. It is fundamental that we respect and safeguard indigenous communities everywhere that we visit. We do this by working on policy development and operational excellence. We have chosen to identify three paths to obtain feedback on our animal protection policy for our Lappish holidays; from our suppliers, from academia specialising on this subject and lastly from the indigenous community itself. Lapland is home to the only indigenous community in Europe and therefore, where most of our attention is focused whilst we build a much wider Indigenous People Policy later in 2023.
Animal Interaction Database

All animal interactions, both those taking place in a wild and captive environment, on Hotelplan Ltd. holidays will be included in a database and reviewed annually by our animal protection experts. We can refer to this database for both future product development and understanding past decisions. This database is comprehensively audited by ANIMONDIAL to independently assess the impact we have on our holidays. Hotelplan Ltd. staff will also audit the suppliers in person wherever any risks or concerns are raised.

Hotelplan Ltd. Traffic Light System

   Conditions Attached? Conditions Examples
Green Animal Interaction No Provided we adhere to strict guidelines* surrounding proximity to animals, length of stay and the means by which to access them, we will presume they are an appropriate interaction. *ABTA Wildlife Viewing Guidelines 2019

Animal viewing by vehicle, boat, on foot or snorkelling/scuba whereby the animals are not enclosed or limited in their behaviour.

National Parks
Reserves or Conservancies
Natural Wilderness

Amber Animal Interaction Yes

Annual independent audit of all captive animal interactions.

Annual check with suppliers about our use of working animals.

If standards are not met the suppliers will be asked to improve through training and collaboration. If we are not satisfied changes have been sufficient, we will change suppliers or remove the interaction

Captive wild animal facilities

Working animals; riding, draft and pack

Animal markets; farmers markets, fish markets (NB: not wildlife markets)

Controlled reindeer feeding by indigenous suppliers

Direct contact with wild animals; not self-initiated

Bird of Prey demonstrations

Red Animal Interaction No Hotelplan Ltd. does not support any activity we feel could endanger, disrespect or in any way harm animals, biodiversity or nature

Do not feed, hold, ride or hunt any wild animal in a wild or captive environment

Do not visit wildlife performances or shows, wildlife markets. or buy bushmeat




  • ABTA Animal Welfare Guidelines
  • Animondial website
  • Wild Welfare website
    Please contact us directly for any more information or resources:


Any Questions or Concerns?

For customers:

If you have concerns about a supplier we use or an included activity, please advise your representative and provide details in the feedback survey sent to you at the end of your holiday. Alternatively email
Wild Welfare also run a welfare concerns page and your concerns can be raised here also;

For staff and suppliers:

If you have concerns about a supplier we use or any excursion, please speak to your operations manager or email
If you would like to know more about specific interactions, facilities or decisions in these guidelines, please speak to your representative on the Sustainability Team. Alternatively you can email
Wild Welfare also run a welfare concerns page and your concerns can be raised here also;

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