A NEW guide to help top tourist spots become more dementia-friendly has been launched by both VisitScotland and VisitEngland. 

The Dementia-friendly Tourism Guide, launched in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society with the support of Alzheimer Scotland, aims to support tourism businesses in accommodating visitors living with the condition through top tips, case studies, and signposts to additional resources.

It highlights the need for increasing employee awareness and understanding, and how to make physical environments and facilities more accessible for these visitors.

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The guide, which will be available for the industry to download here, provides information about dementia and lists the various benefits that businesses will experience by catering for this market.

It shows that improvements do not need to involve significant investment and changes to infrastructure, highlighting the small steps businesses can take, organised around the themes of Information, People and Place.

Dementia is a syndrome associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning.

It is not a natural part of the ageing process and, while there are different types of dementia, the most common form is Alzheimer’s disease.

It is a hidden disability, which means that it is often not visibly apparent that a person has dementia.

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There are around 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland. The Scottish Government estimate around 20,000 people will be newly diagnosed with the condition during 2020. Visitors with dementia face a number of challenges including having the confidence to travel, trying to communicate in noisy environments and becoming disorientated when navigating new places or long routes.

By becoming dementia-friendly, a business will experience many benefits including:


  • Increased revenue and competitive advantage: Research shows that 83% of people with memory problems have switched their shopping habits to places that are more accessible and the ‘dementia pound’ is expected to rise to £23 billion by 2020.
  • Improved customer service and enhanced reputation: Increased knowledge and awareness of dementia will make staff more confident when dealing with all types of visitors and becoming dementia-friendly will help businesses demonstrate that they are socially responsible.
  • Improved seasonal spread: People with dementia may prefer to book ‘out of season’, as places are likely to be less busy and staff may be able to give them more time and attention.
  • Future-proofing: The number of domestic holidays taken by visitors over the age of 55 continues to increase, with a 43% uplift between 2006 and 2018.

Under the Equality Act 2010, organisations have a legal obligation to ensure consumers are adequately protected and that access to services is as inclusive as possible. This includes making ‘reasonable adjustments’ for customers and staff with disabilities, including people with dementia.

Marina Di Duca, VisitScotland Inclusive Tourism Manager, said: “Participating in tourism activities can make significant improvements to the lives of people living with dementia but taking holidays, visiting attractions and staying in accommodation can be challenging for people living with dementia, their carers and loved ones. It is therefore imperative that tourism businesses understand how to support visitors affected by dementia.

“Catering for this market also represents a number of benefits for businesses, helping ensure they experience the benefits brought by tourism. Tourism is more than a holiday experience, it is vital to the Scottish economy, reaching every corner of the country, creating jobs and bringing economic and social change.”

Sally Copley, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, added: “Everyone deserves a short break or holiday to relax and recharge. We are delighted to be uniting with VisitEngland and VisitScotland and raising awareness of what’s possible when the right support and adjustments are put in place, so people with dementia can still get out and enjoy life while creating memories with loved ones.

“Until we find a cure, it’s vital that we do everything we can to make sure everyone with dementia can continue to lead full and meaningful lives. VisitEngland and VisitScotland join more than three million Dementia Friends and hundreds of communities and other organisations in making this a reality.”

Jim Pearson, Director of Policy and Research at Alzheimer Scotland, continued: “It’s crucial that people living with dementia are valued, recognised and respected in their communities and in society as a whole. We’re very supportive of businesses and workplaces who wish to become dementia friendly. This is a crucial step towards building a dementia friendly Scotland, where nobody should face dementia alone.

“If you have any questions about dementia, or about the support available in your area, call Alzheimer Scotland’s 24 Hour Freephone Helpline on 0808 808 3000. If you and your workplace would like to become a Scottish Dementia Friend, visit dementiafriendsscotland.org.”

Dementia Friends Scotland is an Alzheimer Scotland initiative to raise awareness of dementia and reduce stigma. Anybody can become a Scottish Dementia Friend. It’s just about understanding a bit more about dementia and the small things you can do to help people living with dementia. With the right support and understanding, people can live well with dementia and contribute to their local community. By taking part in Dementia Friends Scotland, you can learn a little about what it’s like to live with dementia and turn that understanding into action.

To access the Dementia-friendly Tourism Guide, click here

The guide was created in partnership with Alzheimer’s Society. To learn more about Alzheimer’s Society, go to here. It is also supported by Alzheimer Scotland. To find out more, go to here.  

To learn more about Inclusive Tourism, go to here