The UK call for tourism industry to do more to cater for disabled people
Minister for Disabled People, Sarah Newton, and Tourism Minister, Michael Ellis called on the tourist business to make the country's attractions - from beautiful beaches and activity parks, to hundreds of thousands of heritage sites, more accessible to people with disabilities.
Tourism is booming across the UK and is now worth over £66 billion a year to the economy. The sector employs 1.6 million people and creates growth across the country. The government believes that for the further development of the industry it is necessary to make the tourism infrastructure accessible to all visitors. With one in 5 people in the UK living with a disability or health condition, there is a clear business case for ensuring that disabled people’s needs are catered to. Businesses can take actions including improving training on disability awareness for staff and adapting facilities to ensure they are accessible.
There are already successful examples of this approach in different regions of the country. The Roman Baths and Pump Room in Bath, Mylor Sailing and Powerboat School in Cornwall, the Sandcastle Water Park in Blackpool and the Cottage in the Dales in Newbiggin - in 2018, these tourist attractions in the UK won the prize of the Visit England national tourism office for the development of an accessible environment for all.
Adaptations made by the venues include:
making them wheelchair accessible
installing Changing Places toilets
providing accommodation for guide dogs
This was confirmed by representatives of the British government, personally visiting some facilities where a barrier-free environment was created. In late August, the UK Minister for Disabled People, Sarah Newton went to Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool, England's largest indoor water park, and Tourism Minister Michael Ellis inspected the accessibility of the Eureka! The National Children’s Museum in Halifax, where young visitors learn the secrets of science with the help of interactive exhibits.
“Enjoying all the experiences the UK has to offer with family and friends should be fun and enjoyable, but for many disabled people this can be a cause for disappointment and frustration. - Sarah Newton said. - Many leisure businesses are already doing the right things in making sure their facilities are enjoyed by disabled people, including Sandcastle Water Park in Blackpool. Things like designated opening times, a quiet room, open-ended day tickets and ramps can make all the difference. I’m calling on others in the tourism industry to follow their lead and put visitors’ needs at the heart of their services”.
In turn, the Minister of Tourism of the UK Michael Ellis called on all tourism companies to develop an accessible environment to maintain the UK reputation of a world-leading holiday destination for visitors from both at home and abroad and cater for disabled people.