Access at tourism businesses

An assessment of 34 tourism-related businesses in Osoyoos, British Columbia Canada found that over half are not accessible for the disabled ( Paul Everest, Osoyoos Times, September 2009). A similar study in New Zealand (Rhodda, 2006 ) found that one third of such businesses were not accessible. However, the New Zealand study looked only at wheelchair access to businesses. It is probable that if access for people with sight, hearing, and other impairments had been studies, as they were in the Osoyoos project, more would have been inaccessible.

The Osoyoos study involved a member of the Accessible Tourism Strategy audited 34 businesses in towns that are involved with the tourism industry. Each business was rated on a three-point scale based on accessibility for people with mobility challenges, people who are visually impaired and people who have hearing impairments. The strategy was spearheaded by 2010 Legacies Now, a provincial non-profit organization established in 2007 with a mandate to promote tourism in B.C. in the time leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Richard Molyneux, a co-director for 2010 Legacies Now’s disabilities initiative, said 65 businesses in Osoyoos were approached for the audit and agreeing to participate was on a voluntary basis. He said 17 of the 34 businesses assessed were accommodation properties such as hotels and six of them received a rating of one or more.

One of 2010 Legacies Now’s goals is to promote B.C. as a premier travel destination for people with disabilities, Molyneux said, and 3,000 accessibility audits have taken place across the province since the project began. Roughly 650 million people across the globe could benefit from accessible businesses, he said. In North America alone, 58 million people could benefit from accessible businesses.