Queensland Declares 2023 The Year of Accessible Tourism

Dedicating 2023 to The Year of Accessible Tourism will drive change and create opportunities for both industry and travellers and create a legacy our State can be proud of.

A major initiative for Accessible Tourism in Queensland

An audit of improvements to the accessibility of Queensland’s popular visitor experiences will be launched early next year to help maximise the Palaszczuk Government’s Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan for tourism.

The $450,000 independent appraisal was announced at the 2021 DestinationQ Forum in Brisbane by Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe.

“We know from the work of Tourism Research Australia, people with a disability contribute 17 per cent of all spending on tourism,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“The number of visitors to Queensland with a disability is growing.

“Our Economic Recovery Plan and the Tourism Industry Reference Panel’s work with operators on a post-pandemic blueprint is an ideal opportunity to assess industry success in meeting the needs of visitors with a disability.

“We’re committed to making Queensland’s 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games the world’s most accessible and inclusive sporting events.

“Queensland’s tourism industry will be integral to our success.”

Get Skilled Access (GSA) and Travability will review tourist infrastructure accessibility and tourism business capability in six regions of Queensland for people with a disability.

Travability specialises in travel for visitors with mobility challenges and GSA is an Australian enterprise founded by wheelchair tennis champion Dylan Alcott OAM.

“Our partnership will make it easier for people with a disability to enjoy a holiday in Queensland and provide industry with the resources to cater to the growing accessible tourism market, capitalising on the opportunities Brisbane 2032 will provide,”

Mr Alcott said.

Mr Hinchliffe said the Palaszczuk Government had been working closely on the initiative with the Queensland Tourism Industry Council.

“Our tourism operators are united in their commitment to every Queensland holiday being an unforgettable, world-class visitor experience,”

Mr Hinchliffe said.

In 2017, a study by Tourism Research Australia with Tourism and Events Queensland and the Victorian Government found:

  • Visitors with a disability spent $3.3 billion on tourism accounting for 17 per cent of all tourism expenditure
  • On average, travellers with a disability account for 21 per cent of all day trips and spend 5 per cent more
  • Visitors with a disability generally spend 9 per cent less on overnight trips.

There are more 260,000 Queenslanders living with disability and more than 474,000 carers.

Kuranda Scenic Railway

Queensland launches the National Quality Tourism Framework – Accessibility Accreditation Module

The 27th of September is World Tourism Day.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive social and economic impact. Both developed and developing economies have been hit. And marginalized groups and the most vulnerable have been hit hardest of all. The restart of tourism will help kickstart recovery and growth. It is essential that the benefits this will bring are enjoyed widely and fairly.

World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has therefore designated World Tourism Day 2021 as a day to focus on “Tourism for Inclusive Growth.”

It is great to see that the Queensland Tourism Industry Council has launched the Accessibility Accreditation Module, which forms part of Australia’s national Quality Tourism Framework.


Inclusive tourism is an important issue for our industry. When seeking accommodation and experiences, the ability of one member of a travel party can ultimately decide what the entire party does and where they stay.

Disabilities are not limited to wheelchair use and mobility issues. Impairments to vision or hearing, cognitive function, autism and food intolerances are often invisible but will also impact a consumers travel choices and booking behaviour.

Appealing to this market and being an inclusive business involves understanding and implementing provisions to cater to varied needs, as well as communicating accessible features effectively to ensure your accessible product can be found.

Through the Accessibility self-assessment module, the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC) aims to improve the range and reach of accessible tourism product in the Australian market.

We hope for a future where people of all abilities can actively engage in tourism activities with as much freedom and enjoyment as any other traveller. Living with a disability does not limit a person’s sense of adventure, after all.


The Accessibility self-assessment module joins the suite of best practice programs under the national Quality Tourism Framework.

Developed by the ATIC in consultation with TravAbility, the Accessibility self-assessment module aims to help businesses evaluate how inclusive their experience offering is for people with a disability.

The module will be available via the Quality Tourism Framework online dashboard and aims to increase visibility of accessible experiences and encourage tourism businesses to make adjustments that will accommodate more visitors of all abilities.

To support the launch of the module QTIC has prepared a comprehensive guide to Accessible Tourism covering the market size, the needs and aspirations of a traveller with a disability, and how to engage in the process of becoming accredited.

Download the Guide

WTTC releases major new paper for Inclusive & Accessible Guidelines to aid global Travel & Tourism recovery

WTTC releases major new paper for Inclusive & Accessible Guidelines to aid global Travel & Tourism recovery
Providing accessible travel is both a social imperative and a business opportunity

London, UK: The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) today launches its new high-level guidelines for inclusion and accessibility in the sector which focus on the experience of travellers with disabilities and will help make the Travel & Tourism sector a more inclusive space.

These innovative and important guidelines were compiled on the basis of insights and frameworks developed by private sector leaders in Travel & Tourism, travel and disability experts, and research from intergovernmental organisations. 

Divided into four pillars, the guidelines follow a similar structure to the High-Level Inclusion & Diversity Guidelines and Mental Health Guidelines WTTC released over the past six months.

The four key pillars include:
1.    Developing an inclusive & accessible system
2.    Creating safe spaces
3.    Designing an engaging & relevant system
4.    Exemplifying inclusion & accessibility 

Highlights from these important guidelines include providing training to staff on disability awareness and how to support travellers with disabilities, as well as collaborating with other businesses in areas where there are gaps in accessibility knowledge, experience, and services. 

The report also emphasises the importance of fostering a respectful environment at all locations and for all activities, specifically reminding staff that their attitude towards people with disabilities plays an integral role in making that customer feel welcome and included. 

There is also an importance given to developing accessibility features that are clear, overt, and which such travellers do not require special assistance from staff to use.

Furthermore, the guidelines make clear that businesses should regularly and proactively engage travellers with disabilities in the creation of accessible products and services so that these meet their needs appropriately. They should also include accessibility features from the booking process, enabling travellers with disabilities to engage with the business before booking their travel service or product.

Staff should also be empowered to address customer concerns as they occur or to engage other staff members if and where necessary, and inclusive marketing should be developed to dignify representations of all people and authentically represent them.

Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, WTTC said: “WTTC is proud to release these important high-level guidelines, which will help Travel & Tourism businesses of all kinds, foster more accessible and inclusive environments.

“The Travel & Tourism sector is one of the most diverse in the world. As the report shows and according to the World Health Organization, almost everyone will temporarily or permanently experience disability at some point in their life, and about 15% of the global population live with some form of disability. It is therefore imperative that we are inclusive.

“Furthermore, throughout its very nature, the sector promotes cultural exchange and understanding, therefore it makes perfect sense that we reflect these values within the sector as well. We look forward to seeing these guidelines make real change within the workforce.”

Peter Kern, Vice Chairman and CEO, Expedia Group said: “Travel opens minds and drives better understanding between people from different cultures and identities, but sometimes travel isn’t inclusive of or accessible for people with disabilities or accessibility needs. We are proud to have collaborated with WTTC on the creation of Inclusive & Accessible Travel Guidelines, a resource we will continue to collaborate on in future development, use in our own business and advocate for their adoption across the travel and tourism industry.”

Stacy Ritter, President and CEO, Visit Lauderdale said: “We applaud WTTC on the launch of their Inclusive & Accessible Travel Guidelines. Travelers with disabilities should be embraced, welcomed and celebrated. Visit Lauderdale is committed to this, and we are proud to continue our inclusive and diverse global “Celebrate You” campaign which features disabled residents. To be truly authentic in promoting diversity and inclusion, we must include the disabled community.”

Chris Nassetta, President & CEO Hilton, WTTC Chair said: “The Travel & Tourism sector has a unique role to play in building greater understanding in our global community as we welcome travellers of all backgrounds and abilities,” said Chris Nassetta, President & CEO of Hilton and Chairman of WTTC. “WTTC’s Inclusive & Accessible Travel Guidelines provide valuable insight for our industry as we continue on our journey to create truly inclusive and unforgettable experiences for all.”

John Sage, President, Accessible Travel Solutions and the author of the guidelines said: “People with disabilities (PwD’s) have historically encountered many accessibility challenges while traveling. Browsing, booking, flying, sightseeing, relaxing, and sleeping all present their own specific obstacles. Consequently, many PwD’s must spend many hours handling their own travel details or they stay home. WTTC’s Inclusive and Accessible Travel Guidelines are an important step forward in bringing accessibility into the mainstream thereby making travel accessible for all.”

To read the Inclusive & Accessible Travel Guidelines in full, please click here.

Accessible Tourism Identified As Game Changer for Destinations

Ensuring accessibility for tourists with specific access requirements can be a ‘game changer’ for destinations around the world as they look to bounce back from the impacts of the pandemic. A new set of  Inclusive Recovery Guides from the World Tourism Organization, produced in partnership with the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), the ONCE Foundation of Spain and Travability from Australia, makes clear the importance of placing inclusivity at the centre of recovery plans and provides key recommendations for achieving this.

Launched on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the UNWTO Inclusive Recovery Guide – Socio-Cultural Impacts of COVID-19: Issue I Persons with Disabilities, draws on the expertise of UNWTO’s Ethics Culture and Social Responsibility Department and its partners. While much progress has been made, the publication makes clear that persons with disabilities and seniors encounter barriers preventing them from fully enjoying tourism experiences, even more so during the pandemic. Now, as UNWTO leads the restart of tourism globally, this guide outlines steps that governments, destinations and companies should take to build back better, becoming more inclusive and competitive.

Accessibility as a priority

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism environments and services are often designed without considering the different access requirements that visitors and locals may have. The tourism sector must prioritize accessibility. This can be a real game changer for destinations and businesses, helping them recover from the crisis and grow back in a more inclusive and resilient way.”

This can be a real game changer for destinations and businesses, helping them recover from the crisis and grow back in a more inclusive and resilient way

Highlighting the potential benefits for more accessible destinations, the publication notes that, by 2050, one in six people worldwide will be aged 65 or over, rising to one in four in Europe and North America. Furthermore, data shows that the average spend of tourists with disabilities in Spain, for example is in excess of 800 euros, compared with just over 600 euros for tourists without disabilities.

Recommendations for inclusive recovery

The recommendations advocating for accessibility during the recovery of tourism insist on six main action areas:

Assistance in a crisis: Including accessibility during every stage of repatriation, which requires the backing of destinations and disabled peoples’ organizations (DPOs)

Adaptation of protocols: Follow UNWTO guidance on adapting general health and safety protocols, considering that customers may have different abilities and requirements

Inclusivity in post-pandemic tourism: Including the effective use of data to guide decisions on accessible tourism planning and adjusting accessibility policies and strategies to reflect post-COVID realities

Accessibility in business planning: Treating accessibility as a competitive advantage, improving customer service, and the application of harmonized international standards to enhance quality of life for all

Staff training and inclusion: Extending professional training to better cater for tourists with different abilities, and ensuring equal opportunities in the tourism workforce

Innovation and digital transformation: Embracing innovation to make travel and tourism safer, smarter and easier for all

The guidelines reflect UNWTO’s ongoing commitment to inclusive tourism, enshrined within The UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics, calling on signatories to facilitate tourism for persons with disabilities. This publication is also the first one in a planned series of thematic briefs from UNWTO’s Ethics, Culture and Social Responsibility Department, in its intent to provide guidance to our sector.

UNWTO and partners are asking administrations, destinations and companies, which have successfully incorporated accessibility in their mitigation measures, to share their stories through the questionnaire “Accessible Tourism Champions”, also launched today.

Wheelchair on a jetty in Cairns

Accessible Tourism – A critical part of a staged tourism restart

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe we have seen the world’s tourism and hospitality industries decimated. Efforts to control the virus have seen worldwide lockdowns, international and domestic border restrictions, and the virtual shutdown of world aviation routes.

Recently, there have been significant second wave outbreaks in the US, Australia, New Zealand the UK and Europe, which may be exacerbated with the onset of the northern hemisphere winter.

COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease without an effective cure or vaccine. The industry is faced with the fact that neither are likely to be developed in the near term.

As a result, tourism restarts are likely to be slow and staged with social distancing becoming a normal part of doing business. International borders, with the exception of “airbridges” or inter-country “bubbles”, will be the last to open so for the tourism industry domestic and local tourism will be the lifeblood of the industry for the foreseeable future. We must also recognize that the restart process will be fluid. Relaxation of restrictions is likely to be followed up with the reimposition of lockdowns or reduced numbers in response to second and third waves of infections. International borders may be subject to sudden closure making travel planning difficult if not impossible. Future bookings are likely to be extremely weak in light of the uncertainty.

Why is the Accessible Tourism sector important to the tourism recovery?
Wheelchair on an airboat in the Florida Everglades
Tying down the wheelchair with rachet straps

Since 2014 several pieces of research around the world have placed the value of the market at between 14% and 20% of the total tourism spend. The growth rate is tracking at three times the rate of tourism as a whole. It is being fuelled by the aging and retiring baby boomer generation. Most western countries have a very similar age distribution. Research by McKinsey & Company in the US found that the Baby Boomer generation controls 60% of total wealth and 40% of total expenditure and in areas such as hospitality and leisure the spend was 50%. When looking at that population segment, at age 65, 40% of the group has an age-related disability and by age 75 that climbs to 60%. Extrapolating the spending power and the disability statistics the market is worth 25% of the total tourism spend. The retiree market has also changed with the Baby Boomer generation. This generation is very different from the generations that came before it. It was born into optimism and was also adventurous. It was the Baby Boomers who first backpacked their way around the world, first invented adventure tourism and trekking, and lived by their Lonely Planet guides. The sheer size of the generation meant that they always had the market power to demand products that suited their needs, after all, it was this generation that caused Levis Strauss to alter the cut of their jeans to cater for a middle-aged spread when they turned 40. As retirees, that adventurous spirit remains as does the expectation that the tourism industry will develop a range of inspiring products and experiences that suit their expectations and their aging needs.

Over the last ten years, we have also seen major developments in adaptive equipment. Everything from off-road wheelchairs, sit skis, advanced hearing augmentation, visual wayfinding, etc that are opening up new opportunities for people with a disability.

This generation has also been risk takers and are, therefore, the likely generation to resume travel when COVID-19 has subsided to “manageable” levels and are also the most likely to take up a vaccine option when it becomes available. Again, this generation was brought up in an era when vaccines for international travel were the norm.

Tourism Product is changing
A elderly couple in Skagway Alaska with a mobility walker

Tourism is evolving as world attitudes change. The mass coach tour and set itineraries are giving way to more individualized itineraries and small group touring. The world is far more environmentally and culturally aware and expects tourism to embrace cultural diversity, environmental sensitivity, and be responsible. The old adage of take only photographs and leave only footprints has now developed into a total responsibility approach that preserves and nurtures both local environments and cultures. The tourism industry is adept at change and adept at providing small group, highly interactive experiences.

In addition to the changing nature of the expectation to create unique experiences, the industry has the benefit of over 30 years of disability discrimination legislation around the world and accessible building codes and construction. Facilities exist all over the world that can be packaged into accessible tourism experiences. While there is still work to be done, the opportunity is to develop information systems that can tell prospective travellers with a disability what is available on a destination wide basis and to develop accessible tourism experiences and itineraries.

How does Accessible Tourism aid with the tourism restart
Ramps to a cathedral in Prague

As stated earlier, the tourism industry will restart slowly with reduced numbers and in many cases with a reduced catchment area. Initially, the market will also be more spontaneous with short term bookings. Long lead time detailed itineraries will be hard to sell during recovery. To be profitable, operators will need to concentrate on high-value small group tourism that provides quality and meaningful experiences. Tailorisation gives operators a real chance to look at their offerings and the opportunities to incorporate accessibility as part of their core products and services. Regions have a chance to cooperate and build accessible itineraries to maximize the time spent in a region by a smaller number of people. Social distancing requirements will make it easier to plan accessible routes and create the spaces needed to cater to a wide range of disability groups including those of the autism spectrum. One of the greatest barriers to accessible tourism has always been air travel. In the recovery phase, most tourism is going to be local or domestic making the accessible tourism market a key opportunity. Travellers with a disability tend to stay longer and spend more than the general traveling population which is a key incentive for tourism operators to actively market their accessibility.

For many tourism operators, catering to the accessible tourism market is extremely cost effective. Many will already have the physical assets to cater for the market, the missing link is often the detailed information required to allow a potential visitor to make their own informed decisions as to whether a facility or experience is suitable for their needs. The downtime period many operators are facing at the moment is the perfect chance to evaluate what facilities they have and what disability groups they can cater for. It should be remembered that of the total disability market only 8% are full-time wheelchair users. Those with hearing impairments, reduced vision, and autism all require different facilities. It isn’t all about ramps and accessible toilets. Tourism operators cater for a variety of needs currently and some specialize in certain interest groups. There is no reason why an operator can’t develop specialized products catering for any one particular disability group. Nature, in particular, has major opportunities for the blind or vision impaired with the sensory experiences it offers. Co-designing experiences for travellers with a disability is no different from designing cultural experiences with indigenous groups.

Adding information to an individual operator or destination website is not a difficult or costly thing to do, especially in the current environment where websites need to be continually updated with COVID-19 information and social distancing requirements.

The market for Accessible Tourism is significant. It is potentially 25% of the total tourism spend, especially for local and domestic tourism. The market is extremely loyal and will return on a regular basis if it is comfortable with the experiences. The social network of Accessible Tourism is extremely strong. Great experiences will lead to great referrals. The strength of the offering, like all tourism, depends greatly on co-operation to create a range of experiences within a destination region. One great motel with an accessible bedroom doesn’t create a good holiday experience.

The key steps to making Accessible Tourism part of your COVID-19 restart process
  1. Use the downtime to review the current facilities on offer that are accessible, both at individual operator and destination wide. That includes accommodation, dining, parks and gardens, attractions, and tour operators.
  2. Prepared detailed accessibility guides both at operator and destination wide levels and publish them on both operator and destination websites. Don’t fall into the trap of saying something is fully accessible. Every person with a disability has a different set of needs and capabilities. What is not accessible for some may be an adventure for others. Say what is actually there and provide good photographs and let a potential visitor make up their own mind. The important thing is if people don’t know what is there they won’t come.
  3. Co-design experiences with local disability groups. Often operators and destination managers forget adventure activities and limit the opportunities that travellers with a disability may want to experience even if they don’t appear to be “accessible”
  4. Look closely at community infrastructure, things like beach matting or beach wheelchairs can open a market for the whole region.
  5. Look at marketing opportunities and include people with a disability in mainstream marketing material. Use existing marketing channels that already have a following, but include accessible terms in the copy to improve Google reach. Ensure that accessibility data on regional websites is included on individual tourism operator web sites to increase the overall ratings of your region. As marketing for accessible tourism is no different to marketing for any other form of tourism, be wary of “specialist” sites charging for accessible tourism listings. Many do not have a good market penetration amongst potential visitors. As for any form of marketing the cost per thousand is critical as is monitoring and evaluating referrals. If you wouldn’t trust your general marketing to charities or social enterprises don’t do it for accessible tourism without applying the same economic rigours to its value as you would any other new marketing channel.
  6. Seek professional advice from organisations recognised as accessible tourism specialists.
  7. Most importantly don’t be scared to play in the accessible tourism market, co-design, and seek and learn from feedback. As with all tourism activities the greatest joy comes from seeing visitors enjoying their experiences and leaving changed in some way.

Kalbarri Skywalk opens with Universal Accessibility

Photo: Shem Bisluck/DBCA

The highly anticipated Kalbarri Skywalk in Kalbarri National Park has officially opened, providing a major tourism boost for the Mid-West region.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said:

“Today is an exciting day for everyone who was involved in the development of this bold and iconic facility – congratulations to the Nanda Traditional Owners, the Mid-West Development Commission, the Parks and Wildlife Service at the Department of Biodiversity of Conservation and Attractions and all the contractors.”

The opening of the universally accessible Skywalk marks the culmination of a $24 million project to install two cantilevered platforms overlooking the Murchison Gorge, a kiosk, shade shelters, toilets, parking, 22km of park roads, and upgrades to Meanarra Hill and Z Bend tourist sites.

“These 100-metre high Skywalks which project 25 and 17 metres beyond the cliff face complement the existing natural beauty of the surrounding area, and I’m pleased to say that with universal accessibility, they can be enjoyed by all who visit the national park.”
Stephen Dawson, Environment Minister

For the Nanda Traditional Owners, the facility showcases their culture and stories through interpretive and artistic elements. Visitors are greeted with an entry sign stating kaju yatka, the Nanda words for ‘sky’ and ‘to walk.’

The State Government is working with the Nanda people to explore opportunities for the management of the soon-to-open environmentally friendly kiosk that will operate on low to nil emissions on an off-the-grid power system.

Kalbarri National Park is an iconic location, famous for its 80-kilometre gorge, coastal cliffs that plunge more than 100 metres to the ocean, striking wildflowers and many recreational activities. Annual visits to the national park have increased by almost 100,000 over the past five years to more than 450,000 last year.

UNWTO COVID19 – An Inclusive Response for Vulnerable Groups

Just as the tourism sector is affected more than others by the current COVID-19 pandemic, vulnerable groups within the sector are among the hardest hit. We must ensure that recovery efforts actively include all people and groups. This is an opportunity to create a stronger, more resilient and inclusive industry.

As laid down in the UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics, the sector has a duty to promote the rights of the most vulnerable groups such as women, indigenous people and people with disabilities.

“Tourism activities should respect the equality of men and women; they should promote human rights and, more particularly, the individual rights of the most vulnerable groups, notably children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples.”

UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics
Article 5, paragraph 2

When we talk of designing sustainability into tourism recovery programs, we must acknowledge that sustainability cannot be achieved until all vulnerable groups are embraced fully into the new design.

UNWTO has developed the following measures in collaboration with relevant international, national and local partners to help governments and businesses craft an inclusive response to COVID-19, ensuring that no one is left behind.

COVID-19 & People with Disabilities

People with disabilities and seniors are heavily affected by COVID19. They are often excluded from communications on public health and travel updates, decision-making and information on accessibility of basic services.

Their health conditions and social isolation can expose them to serious risks. The pandemic outbreak, coinciding with the offseason in many destinations, also caught many people with access requirements travelling or “about to board”.

The recovery should include accessibility as a central pillar in measures to improve destinations’ offer and competitiveness, contributing to inclusive environments, services and employment.

Immediate Response

Wheelchair in the Daintree RainforestRepatriation without delays: Accessibility measures are important during repatriation, so everyone can benefit (accessible transport, routes, information, communication). Compromising accessibility entails safety risks and unwanted injuries.

Courtesy accessible accommodation: The provided assistance should observe specific access needs. People with disabilities often travel accompanied, which implies extending the assistance to companions or “essential staff”.

Peer-support among DMOs and DPOs: Destinations should engage disabled peoples’ organizations (DPOs) to support immediate actions. They are mediators in understanding specific needs, existent barriers and the ways to bridge them.

Accessible Communication and Technology: New technologies can make products and services user-friendly. Making technology and communication channels disability-friendly, during and post-COVID19, will benefit all.

“Tourism for All” more than ever in 2020: “Tourism for All” is to be encouraged throughout the year, especially in the forthcoming 2020 high season. People with access needs and seniors can contribute to tourism recovery.


Great Ocean Road“Tourism for All” policies: People with disabilities and seniors represent an immense market opportunity, notably in off/mid – season periods. Destinations should harness this potential and make accessibility a reality.

Improved customer service: Tourism professionals usually lack basic training on attending to customers with disabilities. A quality service implies employees anticipating their clients’ needs, regardless of customers’ abilities.

Equal opportunities in employment: The employment policies in tourism companies should be driven by equal opportunity principles. Proper job adaptations and skill matching enable everyone to access the labour market in our sector.

Use of innovative technology: Technologies should be a lever in making travel easier and more inclusive for all. Alternative formats. i.e. sign language, easy reading, subtitles, audio descriptions and Braille, should be incorporated by developers.

Application of international standards: Tourists need the same accessibility conditions, wherever they travel. Applying international standards can ensure the same level of accessibility for tourism products and services worldwide.

UNWTO has developed these measures in collaboration with international, national and local partners to help governments and businesses craft an inclusive response to COVID-19, ensuring that no one is left behind.

Elderly couple on a train platform

VisitEngland and VisitScotland launch Dementia-Friendly Tourism Guide

VisitEngland and VisitScotland have today launched a new guide to help tourism businesses become more dementia-friendly.

The Dementia-Friendly Tourism Guide, launched in partnership with Alzheimer’s Society, supports tourism businesses in accommodating visitors living with dementia through top tips, case studies and signposts to resources.

The guide, developed with England’s Inclusive Tourism Action Group, lists the benefits that businesses will experience alongside the huge impact that these can have on the lives of 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. Improvements do not need to involve significant investment and the guide highlights the small steps businesses can take, organised around the themes of Information, People and Place.

Visitors with dementia face a number of challenges including having the confidence to travel, communicating in noisy environments and becoming disorientated when navigating new places or long routes.

By becoming dementia-friendly, a business will be able to help people with dementia live better lives. Employers will also experience many benefits, such as increased revenue and competitive advantage, improved customer service and enhanced reputation. It will also improve seasonal spread as tourists with dementia prefer to travel in quieter periods and will future-proof businesses by tapping into a growth market.

Under the Equality Act 2010, organisations have a legal obligation to ensure consumers are adequately protected and that access to services is as inclusive as possible. This includes making ‘reasonable adjustments’ for customers and staff with disabilities, including people with dementia.

Ross Calladine, VisitEngland Head of Business Support, said: 

“Using the practical tips outlined in the guide businesses will make significant improvements to the lives of people living with dementia, their carers and loved ones, and drive the economic benefits of tourism further.

“The value of this sector is expected to rise to £23 billion by 2020 presenting a great opportunity for tourism businesses to offer the warmest of welcomes to people with dementia.”

Sally Copley, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

“Everyone deserves a short break or holiday to relax and recharge. We are delighted to be uniting with VisitEngland and VisitScotland and raising awareness of what’s possible when the right support and adjustments are put in place, so people with dementia can still get out and enjoy life while creating memories with loved ones.

“Until we find a cure, it’s vital that we do everything we can to make sure everyone with dementia can continue to lead full and meaningful lives. VisitEngland and VisitScotland join more than three million Dementia Friends and hundreds of communities and other organisations in making this a reality.”

Leading dementia charity, Alzheimer’s Society, is at the forefront of the biggest ever social action movement in dementia – Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends, which aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.

The UK tourism industry has demonstrated its commitment to accessibility in the Tourism Sector Deal, pledging to make the UK the most accessible tourism destination in Europe by 2025.

Download the Guide

Portugal takes first Accessible Tourism Destinations top award

This 15th edition of the UNWTO Awards was also notable as it marked the launch of the Accessible Tourism Destinations (ATD) initiative. Organized by UNWTO in partnership with the Spanish NGO ONCE, this initiative recognizes destinations that are proactively working to make tourism more accessible to everyone, regardless of physical or mental ability.

Turismo Portugal was awarded the first international distinction of Accessible Tourism Destination (ATD2019), launched by UNWTO and the ONCE Foundation to recognize those destinations that are making laudable efforts so that they can be enjoyed by all tourists, regardless of their physical, sensory or cognitive abilities. In the last decade, Portugal has made outstanding efforts to make its tourism infrastructure, services and products more accessible nation-wide.

Destino Barcelona (Spain) was conferred a special mention as an exceptional urban tourism destination, while the city of Thrissur in Kerala (India) received a special mention as an emerging destination on the global accessible tourism market. The Expert Committee, gathering some of the most acknowledged international experts in universal accessibility in tourism and Design for All, included representatives of destinations, consumers, travel and tourism industries, Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) and international bodies.