‘If the pet is happy, the guest is happy’ – Are pets the new kids of travel?

This morning news broke that a Cat Lovers Festival and a Dog Lovers Festival are being held in Sydney at the end of August.

(Whilst both festivals are being held at the same location at the same time, Travel Weekly can assure any nervous cat owners that both festivals are being held in different spaces.)

This year, for the first time, the Dog Festival will have a dedicated dog-friendly travel hub where happy hound owners can discover the best dog-friendly travel products, accessories, accommodations, and destinations.

This move is just the latest sign that the pet travel industry is booming: in April this year, Rail Europe revealed that ‘Can I bring my dog?’ is one of the most common questions it is asked, and back in March, Virgin said it aims to be the first Australian airline to let people travel with dogs.

It is no surprise some providers are capitalising on the trend – in May Air New Zealand quietly lifted the cost of its pet travel in response to the demand.

Air New Zealand targets pets and overweight luggage in latest price hikes


The growth of pet-friendly travel was one of the key topics discussed at the TTF’s Outlook Tourism conference held in Sydney earlier this month.

Paul Davies

In a panel discussion, cat and dog lover (and CEO of the TTF) Margy Osmond sat down with CEO of NRMA Parks and Resorts, Paul Davies, and general manager of Ovolo Woolloomooloo, Gabriel Polias.

Both NRMA Parks and Resorts and Ovolo are unique in that they allow dogs to stay, so long as their owners join them.

Davies said that whilst the holiday park sector has been welcoming pets (in places) for “some time” he had seen this trend boom since Covid.

“Last year we had something like 30,000 pet stays in one year,” he said.

The majority of those were trips that wouldn’t have been taken if they hadn’t been able to bring their pet along too.

“If you’ve got a pet at home that weekend break away becomes expensive or complicated,” he added.

Gabriel Polias stood at a bar

Gabriel Polias

“You’ve got to find someone who likes him as much as you do”.

Despite cost-of-living pressures, the sector shows no signs of slowing down, he added.

“We are continuing to see those sorts of double-digit growth across all parts of Australia.”

As Polias points out, for many people their dog is as precious as some people consider their children to be.

“ For those of us who have children, when you check into a hotel and the staff fusses over your child it warms your heart – it’s the same with pets. We have a dining menu for the dog, there’s toys, there’s gourmet food, and waterfalls, it’s all about the pet because if the pet is happy then the guests are happy. It is all about that loyalty”.

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