A new campaign aims to position England as a leading destination for disabled tourists.
VisitEngland, the national tourist board, hopes that its Access for All marketing campaign will both champion and improve accessible tourism across the country.
It has published guides highlighting accessible attractions and accommodation across four destinations: Bath, Brighton, Leicestershire and Newcastle-Gateshead.
The national marketing campaign is funded by £100,000 from the government’s Regional Growth Fund, along with some private sector funding.
Each of the venues appearing in the four guides has completed VisitEngland’s Access for All programme.
Key members of staff have taken disability equality training courses, and hotels have been assessed under VisitEngland’s National Accessible Scheme, which rates the accessibility of visitor accommodation throughout England.
The venues in the guides have also been audited by a tourism access advisor, as well as being visited by a disabled “mystery shopper”.
The resources created for the scheme are available for any tourism business to use.
Carrie-Ann Lightley, information service manager for Tourism for All UK, the national accessible tourism charity, welcomed the new investment.
Lightley, who took part in a focus group for the campaign, said: “It’s all very well having accessibility, but you need to tell people about it.
“There is no one place in England where everything is wonderfully accessible, so the good thing that this shows is that anywhere can have good hotels and good places to visit in terms of accessibility.”
She added: “I think it’s a really good sign that VisitEngland are putting together a campaign like this, which is the first of its kind in the country.”
Lightley said she believed that accessibility within the tourism industry was improving.
She said: “The people who work in the industry… are coming around to the opportunities that the market presents.”
The guide to Leicestershire focuses on attractions such as the Richard III exhibition at Leicester’s Guildhall and the National Memorial Arboretum.
In Bath, the guide includes information on the renovations to the Roman Baths, and the city’s Fashion Museum.
Brighton’s guide offers attractions such as the Royal Pavilion and the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.
And Newcastle-Gateshead includes the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, and one of the world’s top music venues, Sage Gateshead.
James Berresford, chief executive of VisitEngland, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase these particular locations as shining examples of best practice; to build on the legacy of the 2012 Paralympic Games and encourage tourism businesses to make the most of the accessible tourism market, which has enormous potential for growth.”
5 March 2014
News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com