QCOSTARICA – As the number of people who consider pets as a member of the family grows, the possibility of taking them on trips and not leaving them alone at home or in an animal hotel, entices travelers.
For that reason, several hotels in Costa Rica entered the pet-friendly world, that is, they began to accept guests accompanied by their pets.
According to Booking.com, 230 of the some 900 hotels associated with the digital platform, allow tourists to stay with pets, yes, on request.
Although not all, many pet-friendly hotels accept that pets stay at no additional cost, however, may ask for an open voucher for any damage caused during the stay.
For Magaly Mora, Marketing and Sales manager of Hotel Hacienda La Pacífica, in Cañas, Guanacaste, this is an extremely attractive market niche that, so far, has given them “a very good result”.
In fact, she added, now with the pandemic, people travel more with pets because they are with them longer and do not want to leave them home alone.
Other hotels charge extra for the pet, similar to a charge for an extra guest.
Hotel owners are finding that being pet-friendly allows them to attract a segment of the tourist market, those who cannot without pets.
Luis Moncada, manager of the Hotel Selina Monteverde, in Puntarenas, “There has been an increase in people traveling with pets, but what we have noticed is that people may not know that we are pet friendly.”
A booming market
For several years, different studies have tried to measure the relationship of Costa Ricans with their pets.
In 2013, for example, the Encuesta Actualidades de la Escuela de Estadística de la Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR) – Survey of the School of Statistics of the University of Costa Rica – estimated that 66.5% of households have at least one pet; dogs and the cats the predominant.
In addition, according to another study, by Unimver, in 2018 “Costa Ricans and their pets”, only 13% of the 204 respondents take these companions on vacation.
However, pet-friendly hotels are growing in Costa Rica and are becoming a good option to encourage animal lovers to travel with them.
According to the executive director of the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels (CCH), Flora Ayub, although there is no official data that indicates the number of pet-friendly hotels in the country, it is noted that many people are traveling with pets.
Likewise, the general manager of the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo (ICT) – Tourism Board – Alberto López, mentioned that the institution is aware of the growth of lodging establishments, and others, that allow pets as part of the services they provide to residents. family nuclei or travelers.
“This growth is due, in part, to the fact that the flexibility of the establishments allows people to feel more encouraged to go out with their pets and this becomes a demand that, little by little, grows stronger,” commented Ingrid Alfonso, Sales Manager of the Aloft hotel.
This hotel, located in Lindora, Santa Ana, has been pet friendly for eight years and, according to Alfonso, the program arose because the hotel market is aimed at an age segment between 25 and 50, a range in which people enjoy being with their family where pets are now part of it.
The service is free, however, they place a $50 hold at check in, in case the pet causes damage to the facilities, if nothing happens, that amount is released. Also, they only accept one pet per room.
Each pet-friendly hotel has its own rules
There are hotels that accept a single pet, and others up to three per room: the number varies depending on the hotel, so it is advisable to check before booking.
Likewise, the type of animals that are allowed, because some only authorize the entry of dogs; others also allow cats. But there are even those that accept small pigs and hedgehogs.
Some hotels only small pets, not to exceed a certain weight, the pets must be “friendly”, that is have appropriate behavior within the facilities, and cannot be left alone in the room.
In addition, the owner must clean up after their pet’s needs. In case the animal is a dog or a cat, a leash may be required in public areas of the hotel.
Best is to ask the hotel about their rules and costs, if any, for the service.
However, due to the pandemic, it could not be determined whether or not the trend could generate European tourist and their pets traffic to Costa Rica.
On a global level, Europe is an excellent market for travelers with pets. In 2018, a study by the Spanish travel agency, Trabber.com, revealed that in Franc, 53% of hotels accept pets, followed by Germany with 49%. Italy and Austria came in third and fourth with 46.5% and 44.2%, respectively. Spain, an important country for tourism in Costa Rica, ranked 12th.
According to the study “Habits of tourism with a dog: the dog-friendly opportunity for the leisure and tourism sector in Spain”, prepared by the now-defunct “Dog Vivant”, in Spain 6.9 million people travel with a dog at least once a year.
“You can’t make projections because now everything changes from one day to the next. So, at this moment, one cannot be sure which trend will be the next one to move the market,” concluded the executive director of the CCH, Flora Ayub.