Traveling with a dog is not a problem
One in four households has at least one dog, and there are already more than five million registered dogs (of which almost half correspond to couples without children) in Spain. Although the numbers continue to increase, evolution is not determined only by the quantity: more than a pet, our four-legged friend has become one of the family, which influences the way of organizing both daily routines and vacations . Leaving it in a nursery or in the care of family or friends is less necessary today than ever, due to the growing offer of dog-friendly tourist destinations. Find out everything you need to know if you want to enjoy your vacation with your furry friend.
Travel with dog
Every year, seven million Spaniards travel with their dog at least once. Of them, 93% do so because they want to share their free time with him, and practically one in three does not even consider going on vacation without their pet. This is stated in the study ‘Habits of tourism with dogs: the dog-friendly opportunity for the leisure and tourism sector in Spain’, prepared by Dog Vivant on 2,912 surveys carried out on users (2,743) and accommodation (169) that admit dogs.
The data are unambiguous and show a clear opportunity that also “presents hardly any barriers to entry. Turning your business into dog-friendly requires almost no investment in infrastructure or conditioning; it’s more a question of will, ”says Elena Fernández, director and founder of Dog Vivant and, for five years, a dog traveler with her little Mina. To adapt to this new business niche, which includes 22% of hotel beds and moves more than 10 million euros a year in Spain, it will be necessary to develop rules of coexistence between customers who travel with and without a dog, determine the areas common to which they have access, if you can have breakfast with them or if you have to pay an extra charge for the pet. “Before there was not this custom and, therefore, there were hardly any accommodations that offered this possibility. Now we are in a phase in which you can practically move with a dog throughout Spain ”, says Fernández.
What is valued most in a dog-friendly destination?
Most users turn to the Internet to organize everything related to their dog vacation, whether it is a getaway or a longer stay. Pages such as Dog Vivant, Traveling with dogs, Where to go with a dog or Backpacking dog contain abundant information on accommodation, restaurants, plans to do with your pet at the destination and even possible requirements for travel. Rural mountain or coastal houses and accommodations are among the preferred accommodations. They stay an average of five nights with an approximate cost of 72 euros, 23% higher than the averages collected by the National Institute of Statistics (INE) for the tourism sector in general. According to the Dog Vivant study, travelers with a dog are also more likely to write recommendations on the Internet about the establishments they visit, a medium that they also use to collect information from other users.
What do we value the most when choosing an accommodation? For 86% of the participants in the survey, the most valued aspect is that the establishment allows the dog to sleep with its owners. Other essential points are that the accommodation is openly defined dog-friendly and that it clearly informs about its policy and facilities (46%), and that it has green areas nearby (45%). More than half consider the opinions left by other travelers before deciding, and although the absence of supplements for dogs is taken into account, many do not consider it essential.
The north, the star
For Elena Fernández, tourism with dogs is not equally developed throughout the territory: “In general, the coastal autonomous communities have the most widespread dog-friendly, due to greater tourism development. The climate also plays an important role, and that is why the Cantabrian coast is spectacularly successful in this type of trip, because the climate is much more pleasant for taking walks with the dog than in the south. That, of course, does not mean that only in the north are good destinations. Without going any further, both Mallorca and Andalusia have multiple options. As for the beaches, there are already almost a hundred sandy areas suitable for dogs along the entire coastline.
Not only private companies recognize the advantages of positioning themselves as dog-friendly. Thus, the Department of Tourism of the Basque Government has published an official guide for tourism with dogs; Gijón has been promoting it for years, has promoted the #Gijonyesmican campaign and even has a perriplano prepared with the collaboration of users; Valencia was the first city in Spain to obtain the Pet Friendly tourist seal from the Spanish Confederation of Travel Agencies; and the Hotel Business Association of Benidorm, Costa Blanca and the Valencian Community (HOSBEC) is already taking steps to promote this destination on the Costa Blanca in low season. The seasonal adjustment is one of the characteristics of this tourism, since the customer with a dog tends to avoid the months of greatest demand. “The high season is still what it is, but then they usually opt for a series of getaways outside of this period,” explains Fernández.
Coexistence and empathy, fundamental
As canine tourism grows, it becomes more necessary to educate in coexistence and education among people who travel with and without their pet. “As more people are traveling with a dog, those who do not have one will gradually realize that a dog does not continually bother, or poop or pee anywhere … They are mostly very polite,” says Fernández. On the other hand, “those who travel with a dog have to comply with the rules and understand that not everyone likes to travel like this”, he adds. “They have to know that the dog is their responsibility and that they must be calm by their side, they must not let them go in the hotel garden if it is not allowed and they must not leave them alone in the room.” Ultimately, the point is that the footprint they leave is a good footprint, that it does not block the way to new opportunities.
In the chapter on pending subjects, Fernández recalls the need for institutional support for transportation and access to facilities: “In many cities, for example, you cannot go by subway with a dog and moving around the city with your pet is only possible in private vehicle ”. In Madrid, traveling by Metro is possible, except in times of greatest influx of travelers (from 7:30 to 9:30, from 14:00 to 16:00 and from 18:00 to 20:00). Precisely because of these difficulties, it is advisable to inform yourself before embarking on any type of trip accompanied by our furry four-legged friends.