Developing a dementia-friendly visitor economy

An estimated 46.8 million people are affected by dementia worldwide, a figure expected to double every 20 years reaching around 131.5 million by 2050. In the UK alone, some 850,000 people have a dementia diagnosis.

Research by Professor Stephen Page, Hertfordshire Business School and Dr Joanne Connell, Exeter University Business School, is pioneering our understanding globally of what becoming dementia-friendly means for businesses and organisations in the visitor economy.

Helping people to live well with dementia involves remaining active and the visitor economy, which includes many leisure and tourism businesses, has a key role to play in becoming dementia-friendly to welcome and meet the needs of these visitors.

Their study, 'Making the UK visitor economy more dementia-friendly: Lessons from the visitor attraction sector' (PDF - 0.56 Mb) provides headline findings of the first international study focusing on businesses in the visitor economy and development of dementia-friendly initiatives. It highlights that:

  • Businesses in the visitor industry can play a role in helping people ‘live well with dementia.
  • Constraints and opportunities exist in the visitor economy sector in increasing accessibility to customers with dementia.

Developing more dementia-friendly heritage

Professor Page and Dr Connell are also part of a Dementia Friendly Heritage Group, working with key heritage stakeholders such as Historic Royal Palaces and the Alzheimers Society, with the aim of creating a resource for heritage managers to help the sector develop a more dementia-friendly heritage sector for people with dementia to visit.

Read the report: Rethinking heritage - A guide to help make your site more dementia-friendly (PDF 27.2 Mb)

The team have also provided advice to businesses in the visitor economy on how to become more dementia-friendly and this can be accessed at:

In 2019, Professor Page and Dr Connell assisted VisitEngland and VisitScotland in preparing the following Guides for tourism businesses on how to make their businesses more dementia-friendly as part of VisitEngland’s Inclusive Tourism Action Group:

The guide can also be accessed at the Alzheimer’s Society website.