UK Tourism Firms Encouraged to Improve Accessibility
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New figures released by VisitEngland from the UK Tourism Survey show that overnight trips made by, or accompanied by, someone with a health condition or impairment contributed almost £1bn to the English domestic visitor economy in the first 6 months of the year, accounting for 5.7 million trips in total.
Thursday 19th November 2009 – New figures released today by VisitEngland from the UK Tourism Survey show that overnight trips made by, or accompanied by, someone with a health condition or impairment contributed almost £1bn to the English domestic visitor economy in the first 6 months of the year, accounting for 5.7 million trips in total.
These latest figures highlight the importance of considering people with access needs, who in the year to June 2009 have accounted for 12% of all overnight domestic trips.
Ross Calladine, Accessibility Project Manager for VisitEngland, says ‘These figures are hugely significant, however, over a quarter of Britons have a long-standing health problem or disability so a huge opportunity still exists to cater for their needs – it doesn’t only make sense morally but economically too. Easily accessible facilities and services benefit not only those with a health condition or impairment, but older visitors, mothers with pushchairs and visitors with broken limbs, amongst many other groups of people,’ says Ross.
‘Tourism businesses should view accessibility in its broadest sense, as fundamentally it is about understanding and catering for the individual needs of all visitors. Many improvements are free or cost very little; for instance, can insulin be refrigerated for diabetics or non-feather bedding made available for asthmatics? These examples show that, it isn’t just about physical accessibility for wheelchair users; every business can do something to broaden their appeal,’ says Ross. ‘VisitEngland provides a number of tools and resources to help tourism operators accommodate people with access needs including a free booklet entitled ‘Easy does it’, available to download at www.visitengland.com/access.’
James Berresford, Chief Executive of VisitEngland, is positive about the impact these figures will have on the wider tourism industry. ‘Many tourism businesses have made great strides in improving the accessibility of their facilities and services but further effort is now required to entice those people with access needs who are not currently enjoying England.’
Visit England is an ENAT Member.