This week sees the launch of Tourism is for Everybody - a movement to help the travel and tourism industry better understand and cater for the 12 million plus people in Britain who are disabled in some way.
Launched to coincide with English Tourism Week and Disabled Access Day on Saturday, Tourism is for Everybody encourages individuals, businesses & policy makers to pull together to deliver a warmer welcome for ALL visitors, including those with some form of impairment.
The campaign is being led by national charity Tourism for All, the voice for accessible tourism in the UK. As their Chairman and campaign spokesman Tim Gardiner MBE explains “It’s not just about legislation and infrastructure, it’s about awareness and respect.”
Nineteen percent of people in Britain and approximately one billion people in the world live with an impairment. Although they already travel quite widely - making 263 million day trips and 12.8 million overnight trips within England alone – research by Tourism for All suggests that disabled people’s experiences are often less than satisfactory and that they can be made to feel awkward or unwelcome.
The Tourism is for Everybody movement asks travel and tourism businesses to honour nine commitments (see website), which include embracing equality, training their staff, appointing an ‘Access Champion’ and monitoring their performance.
The Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson MP said: “Tourism in the UK is thriving with more people choosing to stay at home than go abroad. From the beaches in Bournemouth to the museums in Manchester, I want disabled people to share the experiences that others enjoy freely. The spending power of disabled households is already £212 billion and by making a few changes, this can go further. Businesses have made great strides by making physical changes – introducing ramps, handrails and hearing loops. But for some, providing a warm welcome and a positive attitude is equally as important as the facilities. ”
Individuals and businesses can also get involved on social media by following @TI4Einfo on Twitter and using the hashtag #togetherweareable to share stories of good practice and otherwise. There is also a dedicated facebook page @tourismisforeverybody.
“For most people tourism is one of life’s richest experiences” says Tim Gardiner. “But if you have a long term illness or some form of mobility impairment, trips that should be pleasurable can turn out to be unnecessarily stressful or difficult both for yourself and for the people you are travelling with. A little effort from tourism professionals can make a massive difference. ”
As well as helping make disabled tourists feel included and respected this campaign could also benefit businesses. Tim Gardiner says “Disabled travelers and their companions already contribute over £12 billion to our economy and the market could be bigger if people were assured of a welcome. It’s about offering good customer service to everybody and that’s just good business sense.”
Free Tourism is for Everybody toolkits are available for businesses and a dedicated website www.tourismisforeverybody.org includes a helpful section for people looking for advice on stress free travelling.