Tourism booklet finds accessible market worth ?2 billion
The most comprehensive business case for accessible tourism in England was?launched this week by VisitEngland. The booklet, entitled ?At Your Service?, has been created through a joint partnership between the Government?s Accessible Tourism Stakeholder Forum (which the BHA sit on) and VisitEngland with the aim of inspiring tourism businesses to improve accessibility for customers in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympic Games & Paralympic Games.
Around 11 million people in England have an impairment of some kind whether they are wheel chair users, have poor vision, hearing loss or learning difficulties. ??Overseas, there are potentially 78 million American and 75 million European disabled visitors, friends and family. ?For the first time, the real value of overnight trips in England by both UK residents and international visitors who have a health condition or impairment has been recorded.? These combined figures reveal a lucrative market worth over ?2 billion.?
Tourism Minister John Penrose endorses the booklet and says: ?Improving accessibility is a real opportunity for many businesses.? This booklet provides hard facts and figures outlining the potential benefits of catering to this market, together with clear steps for operators to improve their offer. I hope it will help to achieve a lasting legacy for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.?
Small changes that are easy to implement could include the following:
- Create an Access Statement describing facilities & services to inform people with access needs. www.visitengland.com/accessstatements
- Ensure staff are confident with disability and sign up for disability awareness training. Check out the key skills and knowledge templates devised for front line staff and managers on www.visitengland.org/access?
- Check policies are flexible.? Can those visitors unable to stand in queues be fast-tracked?
- Show assistance dogs are welcome by requesting a free window sticker? Tel: ?01844 348100
- Commission a professional access audit. www.tourismforall.org.uk/Access-audit.html
The booklet contains an easy to follow ?Map through access? showing how to get started, and how to make small adjustments to facilities, provide useful information on accessibility and understand the needs of disabled people.? The map is perforated and designed to provide a means of recording progress.
James Berresford, VisitEngland Chief Executive said: ?It?s time for the tourist industry in England to up its game and further improve on the importance of accessibility.? ?Access is an important element of England?s national strategy for tourism, and for us to meet our goals to grow the sector we must ensure all visitors are welcomed and well catered for whatever their needs.?
Jenifer Littman, Tourism for All UK?s Chief Executive commented: ?As an independent voice for accessible tourism, we have long sought for this business case to be provided so that businesses see disabled people as customers, who have disposable income to spend on holidaying in England.? Whatever the size of the business, this booklet provides a simple step-by-step approach to improve accessibility.?
VisitEngland provides a number of tools and resources to help tourism operators accommodate people with access needs including the ?At your service? booklet, available to view and download now at www.visitengland.org/access.