PAUL O'BRIEN: Should Worthing become more dog-friendly?
I start this week with a question '“ what are 79 per cent of people reading this column planning to do, or have done, this year?
The answer is to take a break on the British Isles, with 66 per cent of the group having this as their main holiday.
With the fluctuation of the pound and unrest in several of our normal holiday hotspots, the staycation is now worth billions of pounds to the English economy.
So how, as a town, do we make sure that Worthing gets as much of the slice of the pie as it can handle?
In our town alone it is estimated that the tourism economy is worth £170million and employs 1,330 people – not an insignificant amount.
So what can we offer that’s different to other towns? I stumbled across a fantastic article in one of the broadsheets a few weeks ago and it really got me thinking of a unique point of difference we could offer.
Now bear with me, but could we become the UK’s most dog-friendly town?
Of the 8.5million dog owners in the UK 1.4million (8.5 per cent of the population) will take their dogs on a staycation with them this year as opposed to abroad, where potential complications involving vaccinations and quarantine arise.
With the misconception that dogs are not allowed in food premises like cafes and restaurants - they are, just not the food prep area - and shops always allowing guide dogs, should we now consider letting all of our four-legged friends into our businesses with you?
Would it entice you to shop more if you could bring your pup along rather than tie them up outside, or would it put you off entering somewhere if dogs were in there?
Several local businesses are thriving by allowing dogs in and Perch on Lancing Beach always has a high percentage of customers who are dog owners.
With figures showing Worthing has around 140,000 overnight stays every year, even if we could attract just five per cent of this new breed of holidaymakers we could add an extra 70,000 stays.
We have the stunning South Downs and seafront on our doorstep for fabulous long walks, so could we add a dog-friendly town centre?
As always, I welcome your feedback.
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