Assistance dogs guide published for tourism businesses

The Equality and Human Rights Commission and tourist board VisitEngland have teamed up to publish a guide advising tourism businesses about catering for customers who use assistance dogs.

“Assistance dogs are highly trained travel companions, providing a crucial service to their owners and used by thousands of people with access needs," commented VisitEngland chief executive James Berresford.

By putting even small alterations into action, businesses providing accommodation can do a lot to support those guests who use these dogs to feel they are being welcomed and supported, he explained.

Doing this can also boost business, by appealing to the market for accessible tourism.

The new guide is called Take the Lead and shows what an important role assistance dogs have. It also goes into the Equality Act 2010.

Visit Wales, VisitScotland and Hearing Dogs for Deaf people were also involved in producing the publication.

Assistance dogs don't just help people who face visual impairments, but individuals who have conditions like diabetes, epilepsy, hearing loss or mobility issues too.

The market for accessible tourism has been valued at over £2 billion, according to an estimate using Great Britain Tourism Survey 2009 and International Passenger Survey 2010 data. There are 6,500 users of assistance dogs in the UK.

The minister for tourism, Helen Grant, has commented on the new publication, saying it's a handy guide that any tourism business can use to ensure they're doing their all to provide suitable support to those customers needing extra assistance.

"Tourism businesses can expand their customer base by understanding how to treat people with assistance dogs," said Equality and Human Rights Commission chief executive, Mark Hammond.

"The guide explains the important role assistance dogs play in the lives of their owners and provides answers to questions raised by the industry."

Berkeley Scott is a specialist hospitality recruitment agency.