Tourism Businesses encouraged to ‘Take the lead’ on access

VisitEngland_EHRCNew publication highlights the importance of welcoming customers with assistance dogs

VisitEngland and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have produced a new guide for tourism businesses on welcoming customers with assistance dogs. Take the lead highlights the important role performed by assistance dogs, it outlines the legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010, and how tourism businesses can boost business by attracting more visits from disabled travellers and their canine companions.

Assistance dogs provide an extremely important service to their owners, who rely on them to help with everyday activities that many people would take for granted. As well as support for people with visual impairments, they also provide valuable help for people with hearing loss, epilepsy, diabetes and physical mobility problems.

By making small changes, often at very low cost, accommodation providers can help ensure all visitors feel welcome, make the most of the accessible tourism market –  a sector worth over £2billion a year with strong growth potential, and ensure they fulfil their legal duties to the 6500 assistance dog users in the UK.

James Berresford, Chief Executive of VisitEngland said: “Assistance dogs are highly trained travel companions, providing a crucial service to their owners and used by thousands of people with access needs. By making even small changes, accommodation providers can go a long way in helping guests with assistance dogs feel supported and welcomed, as well as a boost to business by appealing to the Accessible Tourism market.”

Mark Hammond, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “VisitEngland and the EHRC have worked together to make sure tourism businesses have the right information available to help them make all their customers welcome. Tourism businesses can expand their customer base by understanding how to treat people with assistance dogs. The guide explains the important role assistance dogs play in the lives of their owners and provides answers to questions raised by the industry.”

Minister for Tourism, Helen Grant said: “The ‘take the lead’ publication is a handy guide for all businesses in the tourism sector to make sure they are doing all they can to give the right support to customers who need additional assistance. It sets out the legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010, how small changes can make a big difference to the customer experience and the potential financial benefit businesses could enjoy.”

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