What is accessible tourism?
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:
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.
- 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).
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.
Meeting legal requirements
A number of policies and legislation encourage or make it a legal requirement for services and buildings to be accessible. These are outlined in the Policies and Legislation section 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.
Making your tourism business accessible
To successfully cater for a growing market, tourism businesses should be aware of some of the main barriers experienced by travellers with a disability. These include:
Tourism businesses can appeal to a wider range of visitors and attract more business by making some low or no cost adjustments such as:
- Physical barriers such as inaccessible buildings and facilities
- Inaccessible information, for example text that is too small to read
- A lack of disability awareness and negative staff attitudes
- Poor promotion of existing accessible services and facilities
Tourism Victoria in partnership with the Victorian Office for Disability is developing resources to raise awareness and support the Victorian tourist industry to become more accessible and inclusive. These will be added to this webpage once they are completed.
- Providing information in accessible formats including in large print and Braille
- Clearly communicating how your tourism business is accessible to people with a disability and providing details of any barriers to access such as steps at the entrance so people can make informed decisions
- Providing the phone and email details of someone visitors can contact to get more information
- Making small changes to the physical environment such as providing more places to rest, using clear signage and installing handrails where there are steps
- Making a good first impression by being open to making small changes to accommodate people
- Considering accessibility when buying new equipment such as TVs with Teletext which can benefit people who are Deaf or have a hearing impairment
- Developing a disability action plan to consider longer term changes such as installing larger ramps or training staff in disability awareness
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.
Resources and additional information
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
Travability - www.travability.travel
Travellers Aid Australia
Arts Access Victoria - artsaccess.com.au/
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.