December 29, 2021 08:42
Top hotels are offering pet-friendly deals to attract domestic customers as the hospitality industry suffers yet another setback due to the Omicron panic.
Five-star hotels usually ban pets due to concerns over allergies, noise and hygiene but are now coming round to the reality that 15 million Koreans have pets and they may have to allow the four-legged companions into their guest rooms.
Lotte Hotel started offering staycations with pets last month, including a gift set for furry companions. The rooms are available until the end of February.
"Foreign visitors have dwindled due to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases, which has prompted us to focus more on domestic customers. We decided to open our doors to pets considering the large number of guests who wish to relax with their animals."
At the Millennium Hilton Seoul, 50 rooms offered to guests with pets on a limited basis were sold out early this month. A staffer at the hotel said, "We were surprised to see how many guests wished to stay with their pets."
Hotel Shilla has not gone quite as far but instead offers pet-sitting services for guests until the end of this year. A Shilla Hotel staffer said, "We felt the time has come for us to provide services to our guests so they can relax without worrying about their pets at home."
According to the Korea Rural Economic Institute, the domestic market for pet products and services was worth W3.4 trillion last year and is expected to grow to W6 trillion by 2027 (US$1=W1,188). Kookmin Bank published a report in May showing that 14.48 million people and 6.04 million households own pets in Korea, accounting for 30 percent of all households in the country.
Airlines are also following suit. Low-cost carriers are rolling up their sleeves to attract travelers with pets. T'way Air offers a separate boarding pass for pets, while Jeju Air raised the weight allowance of pets from 5 kg to 7 kg and now allows up to six companion animals to board each flight, up from three.
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