accessible tourism

Accessible Tourism

Helping your visitors know your venue is suitable for them.

Accessible or Inclusive tourism encompasses a range of concepts and terms relating to ideas that tourism should be accessible to all. There are several terms in general use including accessible tourism, adapted tourism, Tourism for All, Barrier Free Tourism (BFT), Easy Access Tourism and Universal Tourism. Currently, there is no agreement on which term is the most appropriate because the concept has evolved significantly over the last decade. 

Initially, many of the terms were used to describe an approach to support integration of people with disability in the travel and accommodation markets. This is in-step with the wider focus on removing barriers in all environments, services and
products in the broader community. As a result, the inclusiveness of environments irrespective of the capabilities of individuals is now an important focus for socially acceptability and marketing reasons .

The Accessible tourism market comprises of three general market segments: 

People with a disability

Older people

Young families

About inclusion and accessibility

Inclusion and accessibility relate to the participation of people with disability in the community. Both inclusion and accessibility refer to the removal of barriers that may impede participation to increase quality of life. Participation includes full citizenship,
formation of social capital, and complete and rewarding social engagement. Inclusion happens on an everyday or episodic basis, in informal or formal ways and on interpersonal, organisational, interagency, intergovernmental, and inter-sectoral
levels. The barriers to inclusion and accessibility may be physical, for example, stairs which prevent wheelchair access or lack of transport access; or cultural/social, for example, emotional and attitudes.

What is Disability?

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is a legally-binding international agreement which expands on the rights presented in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The purpose of the CRPD is to promote,
protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all people with disability and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

Under the CRPD, people with disability include “those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”.

Some data and statistics

Many people think that people with a disability travel and spend less than the general population because of economic circumstances. Data from the First Quarter 2017 National Visitor Survey indicated that this is not the case. On average, people with disability spent $111 on day trips and $615 on night trips. People without disability spent $105 on day trips and $677 on overnight trips. Importantly, these figures do not include expenditure of the total travel group/party. Previous research in Australia indicates that people with disability travel with 2.8 people for an overnight trip and 3.4 for a day-trip, on average. 

Data on travel patterns and tourism expenditure by people with disability shows that they already make up a significant portion of the tourism market. The data shows they spend more on day trips and are likely to go on day trip more often than people without disability. However, a smaller proportion of people with disability go on overnight trips. Data suggests that people with disability want to travel but may face barriers going on overnight trips. This is consistent with previous research and expenditure data that
shows people with disability find it more difficult to locate appropriate accommodation that meets their needs.

How accommodation venues can demonstrate accessibility

Here’a list of general accessibility features that are applicable to all forms of disability:

  • Ramps for access to reception, cottages, rooms, toilets and other facilities on site.
  • Lifts if your property has multiple storeys.
  • Doorways to reception, rooms and other entry/exit areas should be wide enough for wheelchairs. This includes corridors if applicable.
  • Reception area layout should allow for extra space around furniture. It’s the same for rooms and shared areas such as outdoor dining areas and recreation features.
  • Light switches and door handles should be at a height accessible to everyone.
  • Designated disabled parking close to reception and to rooms wherever possible.
  • At reception and in-room documentation about disability options including local emergency service information including braille format.
  • Catering for guide dogs and other service animals.
  • Small child facilities such as cots, high-chairs, changing tables.

While there is no standard set of must-haves and because Bed & Breakfast venues are wide-ranging here’s a suggested list of things that people with physical disabilities might be looking for: 

And don't forget about your website

Disability won’t only affect physical access to your venue. You also need to make it easy for impaired guests to book your Bed and Breakfast. People with vision, cognitive, or other restrictions must be able to make a booking on your website.

If you had someone build your website (or you inherited from the previous owner) you may not know how well (or badly) your website is set up for disability access. For example, some people need to use a browser-based screen reader which converts text to sound. If your information is not displayed correctly or completely, such as alt text for images, they will not understand what you are presenting. 

Other issues might include not being able to use a mouse, so the keyboard should provide all necessary functionality. There’s also an easy way to give website visitors the option to increase the font size to suit their vision capability.

Not sure how accessible your website is?

Ensuring you are a great option for the Accessible Tourism market is not only great business but a wonderful community service outcome. Get in touch soon and ask us to take a look at your site and make some recommendations.
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