‘Don't lose visitors’: Push for pet friendly caravan parks
JADE Wellings wants to make it clear - she does not let her own dogs sleep in her bed.
She does, however, know how important pets are to Australian families.
That is why Cr Wellings introduced the idea of making council-owned caravan parks dog friendly at yesterday's Fraser Coast council meeting.
Cr Wellings referred to RSPCA statistics about pet ownership in her impassioned plea for the council to "change our way of thinking" about dogs in beachfront caravan parks.
"There are over 29 million pets in Australia," she said.
"Sixty-one per cent of households have a pet, 40 per cent of which are dogs.
"Last year, over 60 per cent of dog and cat owners considered their pet as part of the family."
She said many pet owners spoke to their animals as though they could understand them, and let them sleep in their beds (she was quick to point out she was not one of them).
"According to the Caravan and Camping Institute of Australia, the number one difficulty experienced by pet owners in caring for their pets is being able to take their pet on a holiday."
Cr Wellings said allowing pets at council-owned caravan parks would help attract tourists to the Fraser Coast who may otherwise look to stay elsewhere.
"We have a responsibility to manage these parks well and we have a responsibility to our wider business community to do what we can to boost our local economy and that means bringing visitors," she said.
"Let's not miss these visitors to comparable locations that can offer them what they want and need.
"Let's stop them from making a compromise that doesn't include the Fraser Coast."
Darren Everard spoke against the idea of making the park pet friendly, saying the issue of dogs getting onto beaches was a problem.
He also pointed out the Fraser Coast had privately-owned caravan parks that allowed pets and said these businesses needed to have a point of difference from council-run parks.
Cr Wellings countered, saying none of Hervey Bay's beachfront caravan parks allowed dogs and this was an experience travellers were looking for.
She said privately owned parks were still set apart by facilities such as on-site cafes, pools and play equipment.
Her proposal to create a report into making at least one council-owned caravan park pet friendly was voted through, 8-2.