Visitors with a disability should not be seen as “risk management” but as valued customers,

Image: Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Disabled visitors to Scotland should not be seen as “risk management” but as valued customers, according to the national tourism organisation.

Chris McCoy, Equality and Diversity Manager at VisitScotland, addressed delegates at the Rehabilitation International (RI) World Congress in Edinburgh on October 27, to highlight the importance of Scotland’s £1.3 billion accessible tourism market.

VisitScotland’s Accessible Tourism Programme aims to harness the growing, high-value accessible tourism market, and for Scotland to become internationally recognised as a leading destination for people with access needs.

Chris McCoy said: 

“Legislation in the UK has empowered disabled people, making it illegal for service providers to discriminate on the grounds of disability, but it has not enabled them. VisitScotland believes access is enshrined only as a compliance issue, not a market issue. Disabled people still have difficulty finding businesses to cater for their access requirements, and provide adequate information to help make informed choices.

“Disabled people are seen as “risk management”, requiring expensive adjustments, but not as valued customers, requiring new and innovative customer service.” 

Chris says that disabled people still have difficulty finding tourism businesses to cater for their access requirements, and to provide adequate information to help them to make informed choices.

She added: 

“Disabled people don’t want special products, they want to be part of the mainstream. They are seen by some as ‘risk management’, requiring expensive adjustments, but not as valued customers, requiring new and innovative customer service. 

“Changes have to be transformational and our aim is to move the mindset of the industry and the driver for accessible tourism from compliance into the competitive marketplace.”

Hosted by disability employment charity Shaw Trust Scotland, the RI Congress at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre is seeking to influence disability and inclusion policy at a global level and is being attended by more 1,000 people from over 60 countries.

For more information about VisitScotland’s Accessible Tourism Programme, go to


About TravAbility

TravAbility was founded in 2007 by Bill Forrester.

Our mission is to be agents of change; to inspire people who have never traveled before to do so, and to inspire others to do more. To encourage all cultures of the world to see disability as an integral part of life, and to provide the motivation and tools to the tourism industry to allow them to create accessible environments that enable inclusion in an economically sustainable way.

We offer a range of services to tourism operators and Destination Marketing Boards to enable them to take advantage of the growing Accessible Tourism market. Our core approach is program oriented focusing on the product and service needs of people with a disability an developing a culture of innovation to attract this highly profitable and rapidly growing market:

  • Development of Access Statements
  • Product, service and program development
  • Development of 'Soft Infrastructure' policies and procedures
  • Staff and Management Training
  • Marketing Services and Toolkits
  • Access information kits
  • Industry Presentations and Conference Keynotes and Capacity Building Workshops
  • Property Audits and Universal Design planning
  • Self Audit Tools
  • National/State/Regional Park Guides and Trail Maps
  • Diversity and Inclusion Strategy development
  • Disability Action Plans
  • New Project planning and Development
  • Stock Imagery through PhotoAbility
  • Accommodation listings through TravAbility Properties

For more information on how you can make your business more attractive to the traveler with a disability contact Bill.


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