Borders MSP launches dementia friendly tourism campaign

Local MSP Rachael Hamilton has launched a dementia friendly tourism campaign.

Rachael Hamilton, the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Culture and Tourism, has launched the campaign following information revealing that the SNP Government does not have a formal definition of what is dementia friendly in relation to tourism sites.

The campaign calls on the SNP Government to introduce a national accreditation scheme for dementia-friendly tourist attractions, with the potential to open the market to 1.7 million UK dementia patients.

This would entail the creation of a quiet room for patients to take a “time out” during a visit; creating clearer working and signs for directions and advice; and changing the colour of doors to make them easier to locate.

Experts have also suggested hosting memory cafes and workshops, and organising bespoke tours for care homes as ways to help patients and carers.

ISD Scotland statistics have revealed that 456 people were newly diagnosed with dementia in the Scottish Borders.

Scottish Tourism Economic Assessment Monitor (STEAM) statistics found a marked improvement in performance for the Borders Tourism industry since the Borders Rail opened.

  • The number of visitor days in hotels and bed and breakfasts has risen by 27 per cent
  • A 20 per cent rise in visitor spend on food and drink
  • Visitor spend on accommodation is up 17 per cent
  • A 16 per cent rise in overall visitor spend
  • The number of days visitors stayed in the Borders has increased by almost 11 per cent
  • 8 per cent increase in employment related to tourism

The sector is worth just under £200 million to the local Borders economy.

Rachael Hamilton MSP said: "I am proud to launch this dementia friendly campaign. It’s vitally important that more is done to help those with dementia enjoy the same experiences as others.

"This is especially true in Scotland and across the Scottish Borders. Scotland is the best place for Tourism and the Borders is its Tourism capital. I want to see everyone enjoy what the Borders has to offer – locally, nationally and internationally.

"On a recent dementia friendly walk in Kelso I was even more motivated to do more to help those who suffer from dementia. I really think this is something that can make a real difference."