English firms told, ‘cater for disabled visitors’ by tourist board

VisitEngland, the Government-backed tourism board1, has launched a campaign to encourage businesses to tap into the 12.1bn market for disabled travellers. The organisation is working with 56 English organisations, from the Roman Army Museum near Hadrian s Wall to the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham, through the Government s Access For All programme, to ensure that they are kitted out with the right physical facilities and information to be classed as accessible . Overnight trips by disabled travellers are also up 19pc; around 20 of the businesses involved in VisitEngland s Access for All project offer accommodation.

English Firms Told, 'cater For Disabled Visitors' By Tourist BoardSpend by disabled visitors has risen 33pc over the past four years

VisitEngland s chief executive, James Berresford, said: Providing better access for disabled visitors2 is not just a social imperative, it drives money into the economy.

“We have a historic and well-developed tourism industry in this country but this means it requires adjustment and investment to change the product. Some of the sites, like the Roman Army Museum have been there for thousands of years, so providing access is not easy. New research from the body has broken down the accessibility spend by region, and found that as much as 65m is spent in Northumberland by disabled visitors, and 60m in Kent. The campaign has received 90,000 from the European Commission, and the same again in funding from Visit England. It s a relatively modest campaign but it s clearly targeted, Mr Berresford said.

The cash is not being spent on physical infrastructure but campaign marketing and training. It comes after a successful pilot in 2013, which saw a handful of businesses in Bath, Leicestershire, Newcastle, Gateshead and Brighton upgrade their sites to welcome disabled visitors.

English Firms Told, 'cater For Disabled Visitors' By Tourist BoardThe UK already ranks above many other European countries in the accessibility stakes, VisitEngland said

Other attractions that have boosted their accessibility credentials include Chatsworth House in the Peak District; Lincoln Cathedral; and Brighton & Hove Buses, which has made 100pc of its fleet accessible to wheelchair users. Last year, a survey commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions found that nearly two thirds of the UK s top attractions were not fully accessible for wheelchair users3.

In June this year, Srin Madipalli and Martyn Sibley, who both have spinal muscular atrophy and use a motorised wheelchair, founded Accomable4, an online platform to help people with a disability find accessible holidays.

“Our vision is to provide an efficient, one-stop shop, so anyone with a mobility problem or disability can enjoy travel in the UK and abroad,” said Oxford MBA alumnus Mr Madipalli.

Under the Equality Act 2010, tourism businesses must take reasonable steps to address barriers that impede disabled people.

References

  1. ^ Government-backed tourism board (www.discountholidays.info)
  2. ^ better access for disabled visitors (www.discountholidays.info)
  3. ^ two thirds of the UK s top attractions were not fully accessible for wheelchair users (www.discountholidays.info)
  4. ^ Accomable (accomable.com)

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