Tourism for everyone
Everyone should be able to enjoy a holiday. But people with a disability often face barriers when travelling. Many tourist attractions are not accessible. There also needs to be more accessible accommodation. The Australian Government wants to encourage more accessible tourism. They have begun a campaign to improve access to travel and leisure facilities. It includes airlines, hotels and restaurants. Improved access will help businesses attract more customers.
Posted by: Peter Williams, on 29/07/11
People with a disability often encounter barriers when travelling
Everyone should be able to enjoy a holiday. But people with a disability often encounter barriers when travelling or visiting attractions.
The Federal Government has begun looking at ways to make tourism more accessible to people with a disability. It started with a
national tourism dialogue held in Canberra recently. The session discussed ways to encourage more accessible and inclusive tourism.
Senator Jan McLucas is Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers. Ms McLucas says one in five Australians have a disability. Almost 90 per cent of people with disability take a holiday each year. It is estimated they support between 50,000 to 70,000 jobs in the tourist industry.
Disability tourism is also said to be
the fastest growing section of Australia's travel industry. As Australia's population continues to age, more accessible facilities will be needed.
A basic right
Ms McLucas says improving the tourism accessibility
is a basic right that people with disability deserve. It also makes good financial sense for the tourism industry, she adds.
The Government wants to see improved access to airlines, resorts, hotels, tour operations, restaurants and cafes, Ms McLucas says.
People with disability should be able to enjoy their holidays without barriers.
The Federal Government's National Disability Strategy supports local authorities to make public facilities more accessible. New building standards have been introduced. The standards should help ensure that new and upgraded public buildings are accessible to people with a disability.
Rose White is a Melbourne based occupational therapist. Rose had a stroke in 1995.
I travel a lot so accessibility is very important to me, she says.
Quite frequently, hotels do not have accessible rooms.
Rose says all hotels should have rooms with wheelchair access. She also wants to see hotel rooms fitted with equipment recommended by occupational therapists.
Hilton and Loretta Purvis travel all over the world. Hilton is a wheelchair user. He often encounters access challenges when travelling.
(But) the physical barriers are far less annoying than the mental barriers that some people have, says Hilton.
People in the tourist industry... fail to grasp even the most basic needs of a wheelchair user.
Hilton thinks good experiences hinge around good service from people and businesses.
It's tourism operators with a 'can-do' attitude who make the travel experience easier, he says.
Access to information is also important, Hilton says. If people with a disability have access to good information they can plan accordingly.
A picture is worth a thousand words, Hilton says.
I try to encourage anyone in the tourism industry to provide digital photographs of their facilities.
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