A new £45,000 online training programme will help Scotland’s hotels, visitor attractions, pubs, and restaurants better cater for the requirements of people with access needs including those with physical, sensory or learning disabilities, elderly visitors and parents with small children. Scotland’s Minister for Tourism, Fergus Ewing officially launched the first phase of the e-learning Accessible Tourism Course at a visit to the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow on 23 June. With the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August, VisitScotland and its partners believe the programme will ensure all visitors to the City, regardless of their access needs, receive a world-class welcome. Free of charge, the initiative will be available to all Scottish businesses. Ryder Cup Europe has already agreed to use the course as part of its customer service training for Marshalls and Access Buddies ahead of the global event in September at Gleneagles.
As well as promoting good practice, the training will a provide users with a better understanding of the requirements of this growing market. Training is split into four categories: accommodation, visitor attractions, restaurants and catering, and pubs and bars. Accessible tourism was recently valued at more than £370m to the Scottish economy, an increase of £37m since 2009. The rise demonstrates the huge potential economic benefits to hundreds of businesses and services across the country of catering for this market. Tourism Minister Ewing said at the launch of the training that everyone should have the chance to enjoy all that Scotland has to offer. “Improving accessibility has real potential to help achieve tourism industry growth ambitions and boost the wider economy, as well as enhancing social equalities.”
Chris McCoy, VisitScotland Accessible Tourism Scotland project manager, said: “2014 is the year we welcome the world and we want to make sure everybody receives the same warm Scottish welcome. However, we know that poor customer service and a lack of accurate information are among the most common barriers facing visitors with access needs. This project is designed to help equip employees and managers with the skills and knowledge they may need to welcome all visitors, regardless of their access needs. We hope through innovative online tools such as this, we can position Scotland as a country with world-class accessible tourism facilities, offering more choice as well as excellent customer service.”
In the run up to the Commonwealth Games, the Accessible Glasgow Tourism project, an official Glasgow 2014 legacy project which links to the wider Accessible Tourism Scotland project, is encouraging business to realise the potential economic benefits of the Accessible Tourism market by developing an ‘Access Statement’. An access statement offers visitors with access needs a clear description through words and pictures of the facilities and services they can expect during their trip. Creating an access statement is often the first step to making a business more accessible.
For more information about accessible tourism and to access the training course: www.visitscotland.org/accessible-tourism-training. Source: VisitScotland. Follow on Twitter: @VisitScotlandNews @FergusEwingMSP @rydercupEUROPE @Capability_Scot