Published on : Friday, September 1, 2017
VisitLanarkshire is on target to provide accessibility guides for all the region’s attractions and accommodation providers by 2020. The area’s official tourism body which now offers accessibility information for 62% of all attractions, has set the 100% goal as part of the Lanarkshire’s Area Tourism Strategy.
Accessibility guides or statements cater for a range of users, from older people with limited mobility to parents with young children and those with a permanent physical disability or a temporary injury, such as a broken leg. Visitors and guests are provided with full information before travelling, so they can assess whether the venue is accessible to them, regardless of their mental or physical additional needs.
In Scotland, there is a significant need for accessibility information due to the increasing elderly population as well as the one million people in Scotland who define themselves as disabled. Statistics from VisitScotland show 135.9 million trips are being made in Scotland where a member of the party has an impairment or disability. Additionally, the research shows that accessible tourism in Scotland is estimated to have contributed £1.3 billion to the Scottish economy.
VisitLanarkshire has been working in partnership with the leading access information provider, DisabledGo to create detailed access guides for attractions and accommodation providers. Each guide provides comprehensive information and photographs of the attractions, showing the journey through each venue. The information such as parking restrictions, baby changing facilities and ramp access gives visitors the information they need to judge whether they will be able to visit the destination comfortably and confidently.
Recent work on improving accessibility information in the area has resulted in 49% of Lanarkshire’s hotels having access guides from DisabledGo, alongside 75% of campsites and 62% of total attractions. Detailed access guides for train stations and a number of shops around the area are also available. The access guides will be reviewed on an annual basis, ensuring that the information is continually updated.
Alongside the guides, staff at Lanarkshire’s attractions are also being encouraged to undertake specialised training by VisitScotland to improve the customer service offered to visitors and guests with a disability or additional access requirements, which aims to give staff a better understanding about disability, equality and diversity through videos and podcasts.
Mark Calpin, Chair of the Lanarkshire Area Tourism Partnership, said: “The accessibility project allows our attractions and accommodation providers in Lanarkshire to respond to visitors with confidence and enables us to offer high quality information for guests ahead of a visit.
“The survey was straightforward and professional and I would encourage as many venues and attractions to get involved to further open up our fantastic attractions to as many people as possible.”
Anna Nelson, Executive Director at DisabledGo, said: “We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Visit Lanarkshire to fulfil the aspirations set out in the Area Tourism Strategy.
“Too often disabled people and their families face a lack of information about the access and service they can expect. We know how important it is to people to have detailed information they can trust. We equally know that as a hotel or tourist attraction it is rare to have the in-house specialist knowledge required to produce comprehensive information that is fit for purpose.
“We would like to congratulate Visit Lanarkshire for their commitment to inclusive tourism and ensuring that disabled people and their families have the information they need to make informed choices. Too often the £249bn spending power of disabled people is ignored and our hope is that this project will highlight how an area can ensure it is inclusively promoting all it has to offer. Our sincere thanks go to Visit Lanarkshire and all participating venues.”
Annique Armstrong, Regional Director at VisitScotland, said: “We are delighted to see that VisitLanarkshire has made this commitment to creating accessibility guides for attractions and accommodation in the region. At VisitScotland, we aim to make tourism inclusive and accessible for all and this initiative will help potential visitors with access issues to find out exactly what Lanarkshire has to offer.”