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Transport / Pet-friendly cabins ‘could provide huge boost to tourism’

Photo: NorthLink Ferries

A LOCAL dog enthusiast believes that NorthLink Ferries introducing pet-friendly cabins could bring a “huge boost” to Shetland’s tourist industry.

Kaylee Garrick – well-known for taking striking photos of her seven canines – believes an increasing number of people are now travelling on holiday with their dogs.

The Hjaltland and Hrossey will each have two pet-friendly cabins on board, which have vinyl floor coverings instead of carpet and dog bins and a bowl provided.

Customers can walk their dogs on the outer deck and are advised to bring their own bedding for their pets.

It is expected that pets will remain on cabin floors and that any mess is cleaned up.

As well as the cabin charge, there is a £15 supplement for each pet staying within the cabin. A deep clean will be carried out in each pet-friendly cabin each day.

The ferries’ kennels will remain in place, but they have been criticised by pet-owners in the past – with a petition gaining thousands of signatures a few years ago.

Kaylee Garrick.

People can also leave their pets in their suitably ventilated vehicle on the boat.

Garrick, from Scalloway, said on Sunday that she has already “had people contact me saying that this has completely changed their view on coming to Shetland and that they will be booking a holiday with their dog for sure now in the future”.

She previously campaigned against the price of taking animals on Loganair flights to and from Shetland.

Garrick said dogs form an “integral part of the family” and that pet-friendly holidays is now a “major trend”.

“We first became aware of its potential after me and my dog Fenton took part in VisitScotland’s Ambassadog scheme which aired around national newspapers and encouraged businesses to open their doors to four legged friends,” she said.

“Since then, we’ve been quite involved in getting people to visit Shetland through our photos, but we’ve struggled to get people to take their own dog with them.”

Garrick said this was mainly due to travelling north with dogs, with flying pets on the small planes a “no-go” for many.

“We always choose the boat – our dogs snuggle up in their bed in the back of the car and sleep quite happily the whole journey,” she said.

“But I can understand why people were still reserved about this option as most don’t travel with/own a car and not seeing your dog for 14 hours can certainly cause anxiety for most.

“Having the dog friendly cabins means that people can happily ensure that their dog is ‘safe’ at all times in the comfort of their human’s presence.

“This is a fantastic boost for the islands and I’m so delighted that NorthLink Ferries has listened to the locals views and taken them into account.”

Garrick said she also seen a “massive change” in local businesses recently with more hotels and cafes becoming open to dogs.

“I’m really excited to see what the future holds for Shetland and its dog owners – after all, it’s such a fantastic place for them to be,” she added.

“With so much space for walks, beaches to roam and hills to run, Shetland truly is heaven on earth for dogs.

“My only hope is that the owners behave themselves, keep to the dog friendly rules – such as keeping dogs in leads, and cleaning up after them – and ensure that the islands wonderful experiences remains nice for all, including those who don’t own pets.”