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Tourism Sector Urged To Embrace Dog-Friendly Travel

The hospitality and tourism industry could significantly benefit from embracing dog-friendly travel demands. This is according to a new study from the University of Surrey. The researchers strongly advise tourism providers take advantage of the thriving market that is greatly influenced by the rising number of dog parents and their associated travel behaviors.

The researchers at Surrey have revealed the potential of the growing dog-friendly travel market, projecting its value to reach $50.1 billion by 2030. Moreover, an increase in dog ownership in the United Kingdom households due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a demand for travel services tailored for these new pet owners. The team was keen to explore the reasons behind people traveling with their dogs, their emotions regarding the experience, and any difficulties they may encounter. Their study has been published in the Journal of Vacation Marketing.

Adapting to the surge in canine-inclusive tourism

The lead author of the study — Dr. Lori Hoy — stated that there are indications suggesting around 11 million dogs are living in the UK, with 29% of UK adults owning a dog. Thus, she explains, more people are wanting to include their furry friend in their vacation plans. According to her, tourism providers who accommodate this emerging trend could benefit greatly.

Hoy further emphasized the importance of understanding what motivates these dog parents when they consider traveling with their pets. She suggests that by offering bespoke, dog-friendly services, destinations, accommodation providers, attractions, and transport suppliers can more effectively appeal to this demographic.

Furthermore, providers should offer transparent, readily available information on their dog-friendly services. This could both address potential concerns and highlight how they could ensure an enjoyable travel experience for dogs and their owners alike.

Key findings from the study

The study shed light on the incentives and behavioral patterns of dog parents concerning travel with their pets. It is based on four vital social perceptions, namely the bond between humans and dogs, beliefs about canine well-being, information acquisition, and perceived risks. These factors greatly influence the owner’s inclination and conduct when deciding where and when to utilize their vacation budgets.

The research uncovered the following crucial points:

  • Beliefs about canine well-being: Owners feel that their dogs’ happiness and well-being are boosted by traveling together. This sentiment had the strongest positive effect on their inclination to travel.
  • Information acquisition: The ability to access dog-friendly travel data heavily influences owners’ desire to travel. It largely dictates the kind of accommodation and location they search for and book for their vacations.
  • Perceived risks: Perceived risks did not affect owners’ initial intent to travel with their pets. However, it did have a direct and negative impact on the final decision to do so. These risks include concerns related to transport, accommodation, and potential issues with activities during dog-inclusive trips.

Hoy stated that adopting a dog-friendly attitude in tourism is more than just mere tolerance. It’s about generating a hospitable environment and services designed for the benefit of both dogs and their humans. “This involves offering engaging activities, understanding dogs as sentient beings that are part of the leisure experience, and providing easily accessible information about dog-specific policies,” she said. She further emphasized that successful dog-friendly tourism involves strategic marketing and clear communication about the dog-friendly amenities available.

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