PART 4: Best Practices of Accessible Tourism Around the World

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Accessible tourism

Welcome back to our 5-blog post series showcasing the best practices of accessible tourism around the planet!

Previously, we discussed about the international research and development efforts of the tourism industry. Today, we’re going to look into the information and promotion methods of accessible tourism around the world.

Customer Service – What Gives?

Accommodations and restaurants are frequently ill-equipped to meet the needs of tourists with RPA. The lack of suitable accommodations often limit persons to up-scale hotels, which are often the only establishments that are accessible. For example, very few hotels offer accessible rooms with wide entrances or low switches, hand dryers, towel racks, and beds. Of the rooms available, few are on the ground floor.

Many travelers with RPA have difficulty accessing restaurant establishments within tourist destination areas. Others encounter problems after making hotel reservations. In some instances, rooms that were promoted as accessible were actually inaccessible to persons with RPA. For example, showers with handrails may well accommodate some people, but, for many wheelchair users, bathtubs present a major barrier.

Australia’s Initiative: The Tourism Challenge

Leading up to the Sydney Paralympic Games, there was a need to increase awareness of opportunities this market presents. In 1997, the former Office of National Tourism produced The Tourism Challenge – Access for All information kit.

The material for the project include:

  • An information kit – loose pages covering issues relevant to service providers, supplemented with material from other agencies, including case studies or showcase profiles of commendable businesses and services;
  • A contact kit – summary of contact details for tourists with disabilities;
  • An Internet page – publishing material from information and contact kit, with links to relevant tourism and disability support sites. The Internet page also includes feedback mechanisms such as access counter and response option;
  • A database – list of disability or tourism organizations, publications sorted for ready reference; for international inquiries, a summary of guidelines on important issues such as airline policies, guide dogs, medical benefits reciprocity are also available.

A number of tourism service providers have made positive steps towards providing a high standard of service to persons with disabilities and are seeing the benefits. They provide examples of best practice for the tourism industry.

New Zealand’s Initiative: Visitor’s Guide for Travellers with Restricted Mobility

Accessible New Zealand is a 300+-page visitor guide for travelers with disabilities. Moreover, the publication provides information on the accessibility of New Zealand’s best-known attractions and includes a list of accessible accommodation options.

Furthermore, 5,000 copies of Accessible New Zealand were printed. Of this total, 2,000 were distributed to travel and tourism agencies, 1,000 to the disability sector and the remainder was distributed to retailers for sale.

Accessible New Zealand was launched in 2000 at New Zealand’s Parliament. The launch was attended by a number of dignitaries including the Minister of Disability Issues and the Minister of Tourism as well as members of both the tourism and disabilities sectors. Meanwhile, many of those copies were distributed to travel and tourism agencies. The Travel Agents Association of New Zealand received and distributed 600 copies to their membership. Additionally, tourism New Zealand provided copies to all of their international offices and each of the 90 official visitor information centers within New Zealand. Each of the operations listed in the guide also received a free copy. Whitcoulls, New Zealand’s largest chain of booksellers, was the sole retailer of Accessible New Zealand.

Meanwhile, there was positive feedback on Accessible New Zealand from domestic and international visitors to New Zealand. Many acknowledged that the guide was key to the selection of New Zealand as a visitor destination as it demonstrated that consideration was given to the needs of travellers with disabilities.

The guide has assisted in creating a far greater awareness of accessible travel by the tourism sector in general.

We hope you enjoyed and learned a few more things with us. Tune in for our next blog where we will be discussing the best information and promotion practices for persons with disabilities!

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