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The Impact of Stray Cats and Dogs on Tourism

The report lays out why a humane response to homeless cats and dogs not only makes fiscal sense for the tourism industry, but also has benefits for the environment, the community, and of course these animals. It concludes by urging the industry to be part of a solution so that, “the cats and dogs who are suffering in the most beautiful vacation spots in the world will finally get a chance at the lives they deserve.”

In 2012, HRC lent its skills to assist Grassroots Research Fund recipient Cats and Dogs International (CANDi) with a research project on the impact that stray animals have on tourism. The project coincides with CANDi’s mission to assist homeless cats and dogs in the Caribbean and Mexico through adoption, spay/neuter, and educational initiatives that are supported by the tourism industry, travelers, and others.

In the spring of this year, CANDi released a report detailing the findings of our joint research venture: The Economic Impact of Stray Cats and Dogs at Tourist Destinations on the Tourism Industry. Authored by Diana Webster, this report explains that many tourists who encounter cats or dogs in distress while vacationing are less likely to return to that particular destination (or others with similar problems) and are apt to share their negative impression with others.

The report outlines the economic impact that individuals’ experiences with stray cats and dogs while on vacation can have on the tourism industry. It highlights why it makes both fiscal and ethical sense for tourism companies and destination governments to develop sterilization programs as a means of humanely curbing overpopulation.

The centerpiece of the report is a survey conducted by CANDi and HRC in August 2012, which gathered responses from 1,000 U.S. and 200 Canadian tourists. The survey questions were used to explore whether respondents had encountered stray cats and dogs while on vacation, and if so what impact this had on their trip and how this might affect their future travel decisions. The results suggest that homeless cats and dogs have a greater impact on the tourism industry than previously suspected.

Highlights from the survey include:

  • 63% of U.S. travelers and 61% of Canadian travelers saw stray cats or dogs on their most recent vacation outside of the U.S. or Canada.
  • Survey participants were most likely to say that the experience of seeing strays was upsetting (34%).
  • 41% of respondents indicated they would be less apt to visit a location with many stray cats and dogs in future.
  • 7% of survey participants named destinations they would refrain from visiting because of cat and dog overpopulation, with Mexico being the most frequently cited country.
  • Faced with encounters with stray cats and dogs, respondents said they would:
    – report the incident to their hotel/resort (34%) and/or to the travel agents/tourism company (31%)
    – recount their experience on social networking sites (29%) and/or advise friends and family against visiting the destination (25%)
    – share the experience on TripAdvisor or Virtual Tourist (22%) or another review site (17%)
  • Open-ended comments revealed that respondents’ concerns about encounters with stray cats and dogs while vacationing centered on personal safety and (to an even greater extent) the emotional impact that these experiences bring.

The response to this overpopulation in top tourist destinations is often to employ brutal killing methods—electrocution, drowning, hanging, poisoning, etc.—which are frequently conducted as part of a mass cull prior to the start of tourist season. As the report makes clear, these tactics are both inhumane and ineffective and should be abandoned in favor of the more compassionate and successful approach of sterilization.

The report lays out why a humane response to homeless cats and dogs not only makes fiscal sense for the tourism industry, but also has benefits for the environment, the community, and of course these animals. It concludes by urging the industry to be part of a solution so that, “the cats and dogs who are suffering in the most beautiful vacation spots in the world will finally get a chance at the lives they deserve.”

All-Creatures.org

One thought on “The Impact of Stray Cats and Dogs on Tourism”

  1. It really hurts to see all the stray cats and dogs at Kreta.. And too many people have dogs, and some leave them out when they grow up. Many of them more or less live their lives on balconies .- Dogs needs exercise !

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