The future of human tourism doesn't seem to be that good, with IATA forecasting global air travel will fall by 5.7% in 2009 including premium travel falling by 12%. The IMF has warned that the UK economy will shrink by 3.8% in 2009 and deflation is a threat in most OECD countries. It all sounds depressing. Therefore, we need a radical strategy or need to find a new market. We could look at the four legged market rather than two as a future strategy!
Pet ownership is known to date back to Paleolithic times. A 12,000 year old tomb, found in Ein Mallaha in Northern Israel, contained the remains of an elderly woman buried together with those of a puppy dog. The woman's left hand was placed so that it rested on the dog's shoulder, providing visual evidence of a special relationship between early humans and the animal world. In the US it is not uncommon for pets to be dressed in designer fashion, enrolled in day-care centres, given kidney transplants and to be laid to rest in pet cemeteries. Since the Second World War, human's affection for pets has intensified. A study by Aaron Katcher investigated the various common indicators of affection for pet dogs, with 67% of pet owners having a picture of their pet, 73% of dog owners allow their dog to sleep in their bedroom and 80% believe that their pet is sensitive to the owner's feelings. A study by Victoria Voith found that 97% pet owners talked to their pet at least once a day. So, pets are part of the family and the human – pet bond is strong.
For starters, Las Ventanas is one of the most luxurious and exotic locations in Mexico for humans, but at the same time, the resort has developed special menus and massages to pamper furry friends vacationing in the lap of luxury. A Feline Delight's menu for the well-fed cat pleases even the most finicky palate with selections that include 'The Claw Cleaner' (albacore tuna, chopped egg and sour cream), 'Kitty Captain's Plate' (scrambled eggs and poached salmon) and 'Tomcat's Favourite' (a selection of seafood). Dogs have their own Canine Delights menu, with everything from 'The Rin Tin Tin' (shredded braised beef and steamed rice) to 'Doggie Delights' (doggy chews, rawhides and jerky). For pets who require a special diet or who simply crave a particular food, the chef will prepare made-to-order dishes. All pet cuisine is served on petware: metallic bowls with faux gemstones and bone-shaped or kitty-design placemats.
Humans drink Perrier, Evian and Highland Spring, all varieties of bottled mineral water. Mineral water for cats and dogs is now available from Mollibrands, whereas Doggy Java offers a powdered vitamin drink for cats and dogs as well as guinea pigs. Not to feel left out in the bar, Happy Tail Ale is a new non-alcoholic beer for dogs. Made with choice malted barley and filtered water, the new brew comes in a beef flavour, and is fortified with Vitamin E and glucosamine.
Another key driver of tourism is the second home market, how about the case of a Great Dane owner in the UK, who spent US $380,000 on a canine mansion for his pooch, which included a spa and 100cm plasma TV. The mansion comes with two bedrooms with temperature controlled beds in each with outlined surface of sheepskin along the exterior of the bed. It also includes a day lounge, a 30cm deep pool, as well as automated food and water dispensers that pour their meal into self-cleaning food and drinking bowls. But that's nothing compared to the iris scanner to keep away other pets or animals from sneaking in. At least this Canine Mansion is eco friendly. It's fully equipped with geothermal heating along with wind and solar power generators.
If you are not happy with your pooches looks, how about a makeover? A Florida company has found its own niche in the market – selling pet wigs. With Wiggles wigs for dogs, you'll never have to look at the fur your dog was born with or comb and style its unruly mane. Now you can just shave its head and cover the bald zones with a 'do' of your choice. Sparky won't even have to look like a Jack Russell anymore – with long, human-like hair, he can look like a four-legged Barbie doll. Then there is sun beds for dogs (sort of). SunSpa simulates sunlight and provides a warm and soothing haven for cats and dogs. The SunSpa's elegant wooden arch provides a stable base and convenient handles for easy manoeuverability. The light itself maintains a comfortable temperature of 80-85 degrees on the bed's surface, lasts 5000 hours and is 150 watts. The luxurious crypton fabric cover is odour resistant, water resistant, stain resistant, and is machine washable. Along with the cover, the soft foam padding folds up for easy storage.
We know we are in the technology era with GPS systems in cars, mobile phones and children's raincoats. Zoombak offers a GPS dog locator system that sends a message to your cell phone if your dog leaves the yard. Radio Systems Corp sells electronic doorbells so your pets can let you know when they want to go in or out, and also sells radio-controlled pet doors that automatically unlock when your dog or cat's special collar comes near. Nullodor sells a cat litter that changes colour if your kitty has a bladder infection or liver problem.
Wellington, New Zealand is the home to Wearable Arts, however Pitbull Armory makes armoured jackets and accessories for squirrels (yes squirrels) and dogs, all designer gear, fashionable and arty. If you think that is not sexy enough, how about the world's only perfume for dogs. SexyBeast is a blend of bergamot and vanilla infused with patchouli, mandarin and nutmeg oil, a scent to make any bitch turn the heat on.
Finally, if the scent doesn't work how about sex toys for dogs. Hotdoll is a sex doll for dogs. It's shaped like a dog and it'll allow your tension-filled pet to go to town as much as his little heart desires, humping away until he passes out in exhaustion, leaving a wispy coil of friction-singed dog-fur smoke wafting into the air.
At a July 2005 wedding in Wanganui, New Zealand, the groom Glen Armitage designated his dog as best man (aren't dogs our best friend?) but you can go one stage further and marry your pet. If you log onto http://www.marryyourpet.com/ you will be able to marry your pet, you can choose the 'simple wedding' for US $10 or the 'big wedding' for US $85 which comes with a T-shirt. In addition, the website carries a disclaimer advising, inter alia, that "by marrying your pet he/she may be entitled to half your house and all your income", so you have being warned!
As Thomas Lewis notes in the General Theory of Love
The relationship between owners and pets is a strong one as they spend time with each other, they read each others emotional cues, each will find the presence of the other soothing and comforting, and each will tune and regulate the psychology of the other...
I can only conclude that the future of tourism in New Zealand, is all about four legs not two!
PS has anyone tried out the hotdoll on their pooch!
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