Accessible tourism is the ongoing endeavour to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age.
Why is it important for your tourism business?
As well as a social responsibility, there is a compelling business case for making Victoria’s tourism industry more accessible.
Accessible tourism benefits everyone. More people enjoy the opportunity to travel and the tourism industry gets more visitors, longer seasons and new incomes. Society as a whole benefits from new job opportunities, more tax revenue and an accessible environment for local communities and visitors.
You may not be aware that:
- Australia's population is ageing and there is a growing market for travellers with accessibility needs.
- Almost one in five people has a disability of which nearly 90 per cent take a holiday each year.
- People with a disability account for some 8.2 million overnight trips and spend $8 billion or 11 per cent of Australia’s overall tourism expenditure (Victorian Employer’s Chamber of Commerce).
When you consider parents travelling with children in prams and larger groups that include people with a disability the potential benefits of accessible tourism to your business are even greater.
Tapping into the overseas market
Many people with a disability living abroad will want to tap into what Melbourne and Victoria has to offer. Worldwide there are over one billion people with a disability including over 11 million people with a disability in the United Kingdom and 54 million people with a disability in the USA. This represents a significant market.
Tourism Victoria, with the support of the Office for Disability, Department of Human Services, has released Accessible tourism: it's your business, a new accessibility resource kit to raise awareness and support the Victorian tourism industry to become more accessible and inclusive.
Accessible Tourism: It’s Your Business was created with particular attention to the needs of tourism businesses, regional tourism boards and associations and visitor information centres.
The first of its kind for the Victorian tourism industry, the kit incorporates best practices drawn from similar resources internationally, most notably At Your Service, a resource created by Visit England to improve accessibility for customers in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Broken into seven chapters, topics include:
- The common barriers preventing a tourism businesses from being accessible
- Marketing an accessible business
- Tips for assessing a building and facilities
- Developing an access statement
- Integrating accessibility into a business plan
- Integrating accessible features into digital listings such as visitvistoria.com
A number of policies and legislation encourage or make it a legal requirement for services and buildings to be accessible. These are outlined below.
Policies and legislation
Tourism Victoria’s Accessible Tourism Plan 2010-2013
Tourism Victoria’s Accessible Tourism Plan aims to encourage the Victorian tourism industry to see the social and economic benefits of offering tourism products and services for people with access requirements.
Tourism Victoria’s Accessible Tourism Plan outlines strategies and actions to help industry meet these obligations and then go further to cater for all people with access requirements by:
- Increasing industry awareness and understanding of the accessibility needs of tourists
- Encouraging new and existing product to capitalise on the benefits of providing accessible tourism
- Disseminating information on accessible tourism products and attractions.
Disability Action Plans
Many of Victoria’s tourist attractions are developing disability action plans (DAPs). DAPs can identify actions to remove barriers for people with a disability in relation to physical access, employment, participation and attitudinal barriers. Section 38 of the Victorian Disability Act 2006 outlines the legal requirements to develop DAPs. More information about DAPs can be found on the Office for Disability website.
National Disability Strategy
The focus of the National Disability Strategy is improving access to mainstream services. A range of actions within the Strategy will help ensure more people with disability can enjoy holiday travel.
Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010
These Acts protect people with a disability from discrimination and legislate that reasonable adjustments are made to reduce barriers for people with a disability.
For more information about the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act go to the Australian Human Rights Commission website
For more information about the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act go to the Victorian Department of Justice website
For now you can access the following websites for information related to accessible tourism, as well as some general resources about disability access and inclusion.
Accessible tourism: it's your business - a new accessibility resource kit to raise awareness and support the Victorian tourism industry to become more accessible and inclusive.
Visit Victoria, Accessible Victoria - The official tourist site for Melbourne and Victoria including information on accessible accommodation, activities and attractions and the best ways to get around in Melbourne and Victoria.
Victorian Office for Disability - The Office for Disability was established in September 2006 to lead cross government approaches to mainstream disability policy. Its website includes links to resources designed to promote disability access and inclusion.
City of Melbourne Self-assessment accessibility checklist - accessibility checklists designed for different types of businesses including retail, recreation and culture, dining and tourism
Travability - website dedicated to providing accessibility information for the world's best travel destinations
Travellers Aid Australia - an organisation that provides simple, practical travel-related support and aid to help visitors of all backgrounds travel independently and confidently.
Arts Access Victoria - organisation that aims to build the capacity of the arts, disability, community and education sectors to deliver increased and improved opportunities for arts and cultural participation for people with a disability.
DiVine – A community for and by people with a disability. DiVine includes articles written by people with a disability including in relation to travel, going to the theatre and dining.
Last Updated 17th July 2013