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: 

Visitor potential expectations

  • Disabled parking, at least 2 spaces with a minimum width of 3.6 meters each.
  • Accessible parking must be clearly marked with the wheelchair symbol.
  • Additional signage at parking bays “For assistance, please call reception on XXXX”.
  • Clearly signposted and illuminated wheelchair-accessible route between parking and entrance.
  • The recommended distance to the accessible entrance is a maximum of 25 metres from the car park. 
  • Access ramps at changes of level with a maximum gradient of 1:12 at the main entrance to the hotel and to/from the parking area. 
  • Contrast markings at start and end of ramps.
  • Main entrance door has a minimum width of 800 mm free clearance.
  • Main entrance door shall have a minimum width of 840 mm free clearance.
  • Low or no threshold at the entrance door for easy wheelchair access.
  • Night time doorbell accessible from wheelchair, with a sign and illuminated. 
    Entrance door provided with automatic push plate, maximum height 1200 mm.
  • Contrast marking on electric push plate.
  • Clearly signed directions if the accessible entrance is not next to the main entrance.
  • Contrast markings on the ground/floor (the area of the door’s opening arc) are required if there is an electric door opening system.
  • Contrast markings for the door.
  • Contrast markings for other glass surfaces.

Potential Visitor Expectations

  • At least 2 cane holders attached to the reception desk.
  • Seating and tables close to the reception desk.
  • Hearing loop at reception marked with the correct sign.
  • Safety information shall be available at reception in braille or tactile.
  • Vibrating wake up/fire alarm available to borrow, sign at reception.
  • Entrance carpet from entrance to reception in a different colour from flooring, or a guide-line.
  • A guide-line provided if the reception is not immediately in front of the entrance.
  • Part of reception at a height adapted for guests in wheelchairs.

Visitor potential expectations

  • Phone can be reached from the bed.
  • Alarm can be reached from the bed.
  • TV remote control on bedside table.
  • Bed height adjustable for back and legs.
  • Extra electrical socket for electric beds on the wall below the headboard.
  • Recommended total height of bed 550 mm including the mattress.
  • At least 800 mm free floor space on one side of the bed.
  • Lights must be able to be switched off from a wheelchair.
  • Accessible rooms must have a connecting door to an adjoining room.
  • Two peepholes in the door, one at ordinary height and one at 1200 mm.
  • Railing on the inside of the door if automatic closing is missing.
  • Free clearance at doorway into room of at least 800 mm.
  • Wardrobe must be able to be opened from a wheelchair.
  • Wardrobe shelf can be reached from a wheelchair.
  • All lighting switches must be able to be reached from a wheelchair.
  • Floor lamp must be able to be turned on/off from a wheelchair.
  • Desk – accessible in a wheelchair.
  • Electric socket by desk can be reached from a wheelchair. 
  • Visual fire alarm.
  • Room thermostat placed so it can be reached from a wheelchair, central measurement 1200 mm.
  • If there is a fridge/minibar in the room, it must be able to be reached from a wheelchair.
  • The keycard switch must be able to be reached from a wheelchair.

Visitor potential expectations

  • Free clearance at doorway into room of at least 800 mm.
  • Rail on the inside of the door, under the handle or sliding door.
  • No threshold or low threshold adapted for easy wheelchair access. 
  • Alarm.
  • Maximum height of washbasin 780 mm top edge.
  • Wheelchairs must be able to fit under the washbasin.
  • Single lever mixer tap reachable from a wheelchair.
  • Soap dispenser, can be reached from a wheelchair.
  • Towels can be reached from a wheelchair.
  • Coat hangers/hooks can be reached from a wheelchair, height 1200 mm, and 1600 mm.
  • Mirror above wash basin must be able to be seen from a wheelchair.
  • If there is a make-up mirror, it must be able to be reached from a wheelchair.
  • Hair dryer reachable from a wheelchair.
  • Accessible with a wheelchair.
  • Thermostat tap.
  • One shower shampoo holder, can be reached from a wheelchair.
  • Shower stool available. with back and arm rests.
  • Towels can be reached from a wheelchair. Hooks must be provided at two heights.
  • Shower head must be fitted at a maximum lowest height of 1200 mm.
  • Shower curtain or glass shower wall.
  • Railings/handles inside the shower.

Visitor potential expectations

  • Adequate space for manoevreability.
  • Toilet with foldable arm rests that are adjustable and removable.
  • Toilet paper roll holder on arm rests and on the wall.
  • Contrast marking behind toilet.
  • Waste paper bin hung on the wall so it can be opened from a wheelchair.

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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