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Scottish holiday homes to embrace the ‘Hound Pound’

A digital marketing campaign targeting the “Hound Pound” – the money spent by pet-owners who take their four-legged friends on holiday – has been awarded £20,000 by VisitScotland.

With the first award from its new-look Growth Fund, the national tourism organisation has match-funded the £40,000 Paws for a Break campaign led by the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers’ (ASSC) Embrace Scotland website.

Embrace Scotland features more than 7,000 self-catering properties throughout the country, all owned or managed by the ASSC’s 600 members. More than half of these members currently accept pets but the ASSC is keen to encourage more of them to promote their animal-friendly credentials.

VisitScotland research shows almost a third (30 per cent) of holiday-makers base their holiday around how suitable a destination is for their pet, and 72 per cent of dog owners say they would take more holidays in the UK if there were a better attitude towards their canine companions.  Further research showed that holidays with pets had an average extra spend of £126 compared to holidays without pets.

The ASSC, via its Embrace Scotland consumer-facing website, aims to show that taking a self-catering property is “the easiest and most flexible way of holidaying with a pet”, while also highlighting the fact that dogs aren’t the only pets people can take on holiday – with some self-catering properties equipped with stables.

Members will be encouraged to share their ‘pet guest’ stories on Facebook and Twitter and guests will be invited to post photos of their pets on holiday. Alongside the digital activity, the ASSC will also undertake its first consumer show with a stand at the Family Pet Show in Manchester. This will be supported by radio advertising in North West England and a competition in conjunction with the show organisers and sponsors, The Co-operative Group, with a prize break in a pet-friendly self-catering property in Scotland.

Linda Battison, Executive Committee Member at the ASSC, said:

“Many members already provide a warm welcome to pet owners but we want to encourage them to go that extra mile and ensure potential customers know what they offer. Our Paws for a Break self-catering awards will be open for nominations via our Embrace Scotland website (www.embracescotland.co.uk) and our members site www.assc.co.uk and we’ll be encouraging members to sign up to our new Pets Welcome charter.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said:

VisitScotland’s Growth Fund supports collaborative tourism marketing projects that focus on growth in the tourism sector and ensure that visitors experience the true Spirit of Scotland.

“Pet tourism could be worth millions of pounds to Scotland’s visitor economy so we are delighted to help the ASSC as they attempt to unlock this potentially lucrative market through the VisitScotland Growth Fund. The group’s Paws for a Break campaign is an exciting and innovative way to appeal to those looking to enjoy a holiday with their four-legged friends.”

Growth Fund applicants are required to align their marketing with VisitScotland’s strategies and campaigns, including the global Spirit of Scotland campaign. They are also encouraged to think about how they can take advantage of Scotland’s Themed Years. The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design (2016), will be followed by the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology in 2017 and the Year of Young People in 2018.

To find out more about the VisitScotland Growth Fund and for details of how to apply, go to www.visitscotland.org

For more information about Embrace Scotland and the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers, go to www.embracescotland.co.uk and www.assc.co.uk

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