Queensland's tourism minister has claimed the decision by global travel giant TripAdvisor to ban ticket sales to theme parks and tourist attractions that breed or import whales, dolphins and porpoises, could damage the environment.
The new policy, which will affect major venues including Sea World on the Gold Coast, comes after the travel company stopped ticket sales for elephant rides, selfies with tigers and other tourist entertainment deemed cruel to animals.
State tourism minister Kate Jones said Sea World, a major Queensland attraction, does not deserve to be "tarred with the same brush" as unscrupulous operators.
"No one does more for the protection of marine animals on the Gold Coast than Sea World," Ms Jones told AAP on Friday.
"This decision to cut ticket sales to Sea World Gold Coast could damage conservation efforts on the Coast."
TripAdvisor announced this week that it will review experiences for sale on its platform and remove any commercial facilities that breed or import whales, dolphins and porpoises - known as cetaceans - by the end of the year, according to a statement.
The policy will not apply to seaside sanctuaries that care for cetaceans already in captivity.
The policy shift came "after careful consideration of the scientific evidence and arguments presented from all sides", TripAdvisor states.
"Ultimately, we concluded that whales and dolphins do not thrive in captivity - the evidence is both plentiful and compelling," the company said.
"These are highly intelligent animals with complex needs, and their natural environment and wide-ranging roaming habits in the wild cannot be mimicked in inland facilities and small sea pens."
Leading Australian marine park Sea World urged the travel agency to research the science and conservation-based evidence which supports zoos and aquariums and to reach out if they have any questions.
"Sea World is proud of our global leadership in animal rescue, education, research and conservation, and our world-class facilities," the company told AAP.
Sea World said it is an accredited zoological institution under the Zoo and Aquarium Association and also regulated by multiple State and Federal Government agencies.
"We have a long history of working with marine animals, with over 40 years of experience in animal care, research and rescue."
The move was also condemned by Queensland state opposition MPs, with Broadwater MP David Crisafulli labelling it a decision based on poor information.
"(Sea World) has a strong record with animals in need," he said.
But animal activist group Justice for Captives celebrated the announcement.
"Progress in kind tourism! We want more companies stop selling tickets to Sea World and similar parks," the group wrote on Facebook.
Australian Associated Press