Japanese to expand access in preparation for Olympics, Paralympics

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The government of Japan plans to dramatically expand accessibility for people with disabilities at train stations, bus terminals and airports by 2020 in preparation for the Tokyo Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.  As part of the new basic transportation policy, an advisory body to the transport minister compiled a list of 56 items in need of improvement at these facilities.  They include barrier-free equipment and upgrades for wheelchair users, Braille notification signs for people with vision disabilities, toilets specially designed for easier access and platform sliding doors to prevent people from falling onto the tracks.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games return to Tokyo 50 years after first being hosted there.   Yoshiro Mori, President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee points out that Tokyo is the first ever city to have hosted both Games twice.  “ I hope that the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics will become known for further raising the profile of and enhancing Paralympic sports and sports for people with disabilities around the world,” said Mori.

Source: Asahi Shimbun @AJWasahi @Tokyo2020jp @Tokyo2020

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UK Disabled Access Guide

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Dr Nick Almond is a UK Cognitive Neuropsychologist and author  living with cerebral palsy.  In this guest post, Nick talks about his reasons for setting up The Disabled Access Guide.   The guide aims to provide individuals who are less abled/wheelchair users and their enablers with information about access to public places across the UK. The guide is a work in progress, and people are encouraged to fill in their own reviews on venue access on the website or email Nick at nalmond944@aol.com.  You can follow Nick on Twitter at Twitter @DrNickMAlmond.

NickAlmond

Nick writes: As you can see in my video, I am quite severely disabled so I am in a wheelchair all the time and when I did my undergraduate degree my friends were asking me to go out to pubs and restaurants which I did not really know much about and were totally inaccessible and others did not have a toilet which was accessible or they were using the toilet for storage which really annoyed me. So I thought that there would be somewhere online which you could look up venues and see if they were accessible or not, but all the sites which I’ve found were not very detailed and did not have enough information. So this meant that we used to have to phone up the places first and ask if I could get in and if they have a toilet which was working. If you can imagine going on a pub crawl with 20 other students to 20+ pubs then it would take a week to organise it.

Then I thought that I could widen the use of the website so that people can put a blog on it and that I can ask people to support certain things which I feel are discriminatory. So you will notice that there are success stories where we have campaigned for a toilet in a pub which has recently been refurbished and that had wheelchair access but the brewery did not build a accessible toilet, even though it was very easy to do so, so me and my MP got together and checked out the policy on disabled access and we showed that if somewhere is large enough and they have wheelchair access then they must accommodated for an accessible toilet. The other thing which I would like to do is to increase awareness of disability in two ways.  First, with my YouTube vlog so that people can see that just because someone has involuntary movements, is in a wheelchair and cannot speak very well (apart from my Yorkshire accent ;) ) they can be treated like a normal person. Second, I hope that companies will look at my website and understand what is important for having really good disabled access. For example, my local pub, The Lawnswood Arms, has not got a dropped curb where the disabled car parking space is at, and my website has pointed that out and the manager has picked up on that. He has promised me that there will be a dropped curb where it is needed within the next month, and that he hopes that this will increase the rating of the venue… Which is great!

I am hoping to cover the whole of the UK in time but obviously we need funding to keep it going because I have a group of researchers that are going around and assessing venues and writing up reports on them. Hopefully in time if we can attract more attention on the website then we will get sponsorship which will help to cover the cost of the research.    All the income that comes into the company goes straight to either research or maintaining the website so it is a not-for-profit organisation. It is really frustrating that the government will not fund this type of research if you are a private limited company or you have funding from elsewhere such as charities. I don’t know why this is the case because the government is not doing very much to provide access information for people with disabilities and in the UK there is a distinct lack of information for people with disabilities or people who care for people with disabilities to point out where they can go without any hassle.

UNWTO San Marino Declaration calls for universal accessibility in tourism

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Woman walking with a broken leg and crutches

Achieving universal accessibility throughout the tourism value chain is the main call for action of the San Marino Declaration of Accessible Tourism, adopted at the First UNWTO Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe (San Marino, 19-20 November 2014).  The conference addressed how to advance quality, sustainability and competitiveness in accessible tourism with a special focus on cultural heritage and the use of smart technologies. Increased accessibility in tourism benefits people with disabilities and special needs while entailing important economic opportunities for the sector.   “Accessible Tourism for All ranks high amongst the ethical challenges we have identified and which require our permanent attention and guidance”, said the Chairman of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics, Pascal Lamy, opening the Conference. ”Advocating for and advancing universal access in travel and tourism is both a question of rights and a question of ethics, a matter of quality and respect, of freedom and non-discrimination”, he added.

The San Marino Declaration on Accessible Tourism was adopted unanimously, and called for all stakeholders to ensure universal accessibility in all the components of the tourism value chain. This includes the physical environment, the transportation system and information and communications channels, as well as to strengthen and engage public-private partnerships and other forms of cooperation among entities working in the field of universal accessibility.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai stressed that “People with disabilities and special needs should be able to actively take part in tourism just as any other traveller. Great strides have been made to advance universal accessibility, particularly in Europe, but there are still many opportunities to be seized. Accessibility for all depends much on the will of all players to work together, and we at UNWTO remain committed to advancing this fundamental agenda and implementing the necessary changes alongside our partners.”

While referring to the morphological features of the hilly mediaeval town of San Marino, the Minister of Tourism, H.E. Mr. Teodoro Lonfernini, pointed out that “San Marino is doing its best to make its territory accessible to as many visitors as possible, while also trying to enable an authentic travel experience to people with special needs”, adding that “if a country like the Republic of San Marino can achieve that, many other States should be able to follow the same path”.

The Conference was jointly organized by UNWTO and the Government of the Republic of San Marino in collaboration with Village for All (V4A) and the ONCE Foundation of Spain.

Source: Press release.  Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @undesadspd @SanMarinoxTutti @Villageforall @Fundacion_ONCE @ RisiMarcelo

 

UK CAA new tougher airport, airline disabilities information provision requirements

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The United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) recently set tougher requirements on airports and airlines concerning information they must provide disabled passengers (http://www.reducedmobility.eu/20140818497/The-News/uk-caa-tighten-information-rules-for-disabled-passengers.html).   Requirements concern

  • making essential information available to consumers in an accessible format
  • information should be provided on a single web page one click away from the home page of the operator’s website or on webpages directly accessible from a single ‘landing’ webpage one click away from the home page
  • content should be presented in a clear and easy to understand way and accessible for passengers with impairments such as blindness or low vision, deafness or hearing loss, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, restricted movement, photosensitivity or any combination of these.
  • the design of websites should take into consideration existing international guidelines on website accessibility
  • airports must publish information on the assistance provided at the airport and how to obtain this assistance;  information on the layout of the airport, on quality standards and airport security,  handling of mobility equipment and assistance dogs, the telephone number and opening hours of the airport’s helpline for enquiries from Passengers with Reduced Mobility and other disabilities, and information on how to complain.

Airlines must publish information on:

  • safety restrictions
  • seating on-board
  • fitness to fly
  • when a carer will be required
  • accessibility and use of lavatories, and
  • compensation for damaged or lost mobility devices.

“This is a giant leap forward in terms of quality, quantity, and accessibility of information available to passengers with disabilities,” Reduced Mobility Rights Director Roberto Castiglioni said (http://www.reducedmobility.eu/20140818497/The-News/uk-caa-tighten-information-rules-for-disabled-passengers.html). 

Airports and airlines have until 31st October 2014 to comply with the new requirements. The UK CAA told operators it may take formal enforcement action to ensure compliance under sections 86 and 87 of the Civil Aviation Act 2012. This may include imposing a penalty or seeking a court injunction against operators not in compliance with the new rules. 

Source: Reduced Mobility Rights. Follow on Twitter: @ReducedMobility @UK_CAA

UN: People with Disabilities fastest growing minority in the world

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Senior couple out for  a stroll On December 3 – which is the United Nations International Day of People with Disabilities – New Zealanders with disabilities who are high achievers will be recognised at the Attitude Awards in Auckland.  According to the recently released NZ Disability Survey 2013, 24% of people living in New Zealand have one or more disabilities.  Because of the aging population, this percentage will increase over the coming years as the huge Baby Boomer cohort ages.  Globally, there are at least 1 billion people already with some form of disability, and the United Nations describing the disability community as “the fastest-growing minority in the world” (UN). In NZ, physical impairment is the most common type of disability, followed by sensory impairments such as hearing or vision loss. Mental illness affected 5% of our citizens, and intellectual disability 2%.  Last year’s inductee into Attitude’s hall of fame, accessibility advocate Alexia Pickering, said in her acceptance speech:  “Accessibility rules the lives of all people with disabilities. It determines where we go, what we do, who we can visit, what theatre we can go to. It just rules our life” (Stuff). The United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which has been observed since 1992, provides an opportunity to further raise awareness of disability and accessibility as an overarching development issue, promote understanding of disability issues, and mobilise support for the dignity, rights, and wellbeing of people with disabilities.  The theme of this year’s commemoration is: “Sustainable Development – The Promise of Technology.”

Follow on Twitter: @UN_Enable @attitude_tv @NZStuff  @kennyKatie

WCET praises UNWTO, partners initiatives on Accessible Tourism

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 The fourteenth meeting of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics meeting in Rome, Italy (17-18 November 2014) commended the efforts of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and its partners to advance Accessible Tourism for All. The Committee firmly supported the “Montreal Declaration – A World for All”, the outcome document of the recent World Summit on Destinations for, and participated actively in the 1st Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe held in San Marino on 19-20 November.  Besides the issue of accessibility, the Committee also debated the ethical implications of the promotion of fair models of all-inclusive holidays, the impact on tourism of unfounded ratings on travel portals and the effect of the rise of sharing economy in tourism.  “The tourism sector is undergoing great changes…. which we have to understand and reflect in our initiatives”, said Pascal Lamy, chair of the Committee.

The World Committee on Tourism Ethics is the independent body responsible for promoting and monitoring the implementation of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.  The UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism is a set of principles designed to guide the development of tourism in a way that maximizes the socio-economic benefits of the sector, while minimizing any negative impacts. It was adopted by the UNWTO General Assembly in 1999 and endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2001.  The Committee – a subsidiary organ of the UNWTO General Assembly – reports directly to the Assembly. Members are elected in their personal capacities and not as officials of governments or representatives of their countries.

Links: WCET http://ethics.unwto.org/en/content/world-committee-tourism-ethics  UNWTO http://www2.unwto.org/ Conference on Accessible Tourism  http://www.accesstourismnz.org.nz/2014/03/unwto-san-marino-to-hold-first-european-conference-on-accessible-tourism/  Destinations for All http://www.destinationsforall2014.com/en/declaration#.VG_V7cIcRYc  UNWTO/San Marino 1st European

Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @Keroul1979 @RisiMarcelo @Fundacion_ONCE @SanMarinoxTutti @undesadspd @UNWTO @DPT20141

The 20 most accessible tourist attractions in Britain

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Science Museum London early computer

 

The 20 most accessible places for people with disabilities in Britain have been named.  The attractions were chosen by the tourism boards of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.  In naming the attractions Mark Harper, Minister of State for Disabled people pointed out that businesses were missing out if they did not cater for people with disabilities.  “There are eleven million people with a disability in Britain and they and theor families have a spending power of over £200bn”, said Harper.  The minister pointed out that it takes little to make businesses more accessible. 

The accessible attractions include the Science Museum in London, Cadbury World in Birmingham, The National Childrens Museum on Halifax Yorkshire, Red kite Spotting in the Cambrian Mountains of Wales, the royal Yatch Britannia in Edinburgh, and the Titanic building, Belfast.

As Sophie Morgan – who works for VisitBritain to promote accessible UK attractions has pointed out, people with disabilities “travel in groups and will generally stay in accommodation longer – a dream for hoteliers”.  While some issues with access are problematic – especially in heritage buildings, in other instances problems could be fixed by sumply adding a few photos to a website.  People with disabilities often spend hours researching a trip, “simply because companies fail to provide the correct information, including pictures, on their websites”, said Morgan.  As well as better, more accurate information about access, Morgan would like to see greater consistency among rail operators and airlines when dealing with disabled passengers, and the establishment of a nationwide online portal to provide reliable detailed information on accessible attractions.

Follow on Twitter: @Telegraph @sophmorgan @VisitBritain @VisitScotland @VisitWales @DiscoverNI

Scandic Hotels wins awards for freely available accessibility training

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Accessible room Scandic Hotels website

Scandic Hotels is a leader in making accessible accommodation open to everyone (see the many reports on this website).  Now Scandic’s accessibility training has won first prize for best interactive training at the Swedish Learning Awards 2014 and also took home silver in the British E-learning Awards.  Scandic is the leading hotel operator in Nordic countries. Just over 10 years ago Scandic started making its hotels more accessible for people with disabilities.   Part of this effort includes the development of a wide-ranging interactive training programme for all the hotel chain’s employees with the aim of fostering an understanding of different types of accessibility challenges and the importance of treating all guests properly. At the end of 2013, Scandic made interactive training openly available to all on its own website in order to improve awareness.  “Every day we see people from outside Scandic completing our training on the website. Receiving an award for this is the icing on the cake and something that makes us particularly proud. It shows that the issue of accessibility is an important one,” says Scandic’s Director of Accessibility Magnus Berglund. In the Swedish E-learning awards Scandic won in the category “Best e-learning profit-making business” in Sweden. The jury said: “An easy-to-use interface with inspiring shifts in perspective that enable a wide target group to realise and understand that when staying at a hotel not everyone enjoys the same experience on the same terms.”   Scandic also won silver for the best e-learning product in the British E-learning Awards, amid  tough competition from 250 international entries. Follow on Twitter: @ScandicGlobal @ScandicNorge

Scottish government boost to ferry network accessibility

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Scottish ferry Scotland’s transport minister Keith Brown has announced a new £500,000 fund to improve accessibility on Scotland’s ferry network.  The Ferries Accessibility Fund will be open to bids from the public and private sector, and aims to make improvements to existing vessels and harbours that go beyond regulatory standards set for accessibility. Awards will be made on a match-funding basis, which means that operators bidding for money will be expected to match the contribution from the fund themselves. The fund will initially be open to applications until the end of November 2014, with the successful applicants being announced in January 2015. Further calls will be issued in 2015.   Brown said: “Scotland’s ferry services should be open and accessible to everyone, and we want ferry and harbour operators to provide the best passenger experience possible”.  Operators already have strict standards to meet when it comes to accessibility, but this announcement can help them to go further.  “The funding could help a wide range of proposals, from adapting existing ships and harbours to make it easier and safer for people with reduced mobility to embark and disembark, to giving staff training in disability awareness and customer service” brown continued.  “By making awards on a match-funding basis, it means up to £1million could be spent on accessibility improvements across the ferry network.” Anne Maclean, convenor of the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) said: “The Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland welcomes the Ferries Accessibility Fund as an encouraging initiative to go beyond the requirements of legislation and to include disabled people in pointing out and making sometimes small changes which can make the Ferry journey much more accessible, comfortable and enjoyable for the disabled traveller.”    The Fund is open to bids from any ferry or harbour operator providing a service covered by the Scottish Ferries Plan, published in December 2012. This includes local authority and private sector port and ferry services.

Source: Transport Scotland  Follow on Twitter: @transcotland

Tourism Assoc Ontario recognizes growing importance of accessible tourism

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The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) has announced that Easter Seals Canada is the winner of the Tourism Industry Award of Excellence for Accessible Tourism. This award is new to the program this year, and celebrates efforts made to make tourism businesses and destinations available to all Ontarians.  Easter Seals Canada is dedicated to fully enhancing the quality of life, self-esteem, and self-determination of Canadians with disabilities. Implementing inclusive and accessible services is the cornerstone of the programs offered by Easter Seals Canada, such as the Access 2 Entertainment and Disability Travel Card programs, which work with the transportation, entertainment and tourism sectors to implement accessible service action plans

TIAO is recognized as the umbrella organization for leading associations, destination marketing organizations and regional tourism organizations serving Ontario’s diverse tourism industry. Collectively representing 149,000 businesses and 305,000 employees dedicated to promoting and operating the province’s powerful tourism infrastructure, TIAO provides a strong, unified voice for the sector and advocates the importance of tourism to all levels of government in order to help the industry grow and prosper. The Tourism Industry Awards of Excellence recognize leaders in innovation, events, volunteering, sustainability and accessibility within Ontario’s vibrant tourism industry.

Beth Potter, President & CEO, TIAO said of the award “Accessible tourism has become a major trend in both Ontario and Canada. One in seven Ontarians has a disability, and that number is expected to rise over the next 20 years. Easter Seals Canada is ahead of the curve in creating services for this market, and TIAO is thrilled to present them with our newest award.”

SOURCE Tourism Industry Association of Ontario https://www.tiaontario.ca/.  Follow on Twitter: @TiaoTweets @EasterSeals 

San Francisco Airport directions app for the Blind, visually impaired

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Using indoors app

San Francisco Airport (SFO) http://www.flysfo.com/  is testing out location-aware beacons, a program it could roll out to the rest of the airport if successful.   The beacons deliver location-sensitive, voice –based directions via smartphones to help people who are Blind, have vision loss, or find it difficult to navigate.  At the moment, the system uses Apple iOS devices, but SFO plans to make it available for Android users and eventually expand the system to provide information for those who can see.  The beacons are provided by indoor mapping firm indoo.rs, http://indoo.rs/sfo/ who have installed 300 of them at various points around Terminal 2 including stores, restrooms, boarding gates, baggage claim and even power outlets. The beacons use triangulation to determine exactly where the passenger is within the vicinity and to relay nearby facilities using voiceover technology.  Each beacon will connect to the phone app to provide information when a user gets within range.

Location beacons are in their infancy in terms of adoption, but are beginning to show up in retail spaces, museums, movie theatres, and some sports venues around the world.  SFO and Indoo.rs say they plan to continue testing this system over the next month with a live version of the site, and public availability of the software in the fall. 

Follow on Twitter: @flySFO @indoo_rs

ICT and coastal tourism for all: European conference

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Cote d Azur veiw of the coast

Euro-Mediterranean m-Tourism institutions and professionals recently shared their ideas and suggestions on ICT and Coastal Tourism for All with 80 professionals attending the 4th Telecom Valley m-Tourism Day in Nice, France (http://www.investincotedazur.com/en/info/news/ict-and-coastal-tourism-for-all-in-the-euro-mediterranean/).  The session was part of the Digital Economy Fortnight in PACA. Coastal tourism was discussed in terms of  access for all, including people with disabilities, families, seniors, and others who need better access. Presenting bodies included institutions (Riviera Cote d’Azur CRT, Nice Cote d’Azur CCI, NECstour) and digital companies which are developing solutions related tosuch visitors.  Included were the WACAN Agency in Sophia Antipolis, which has developed a smartphone application for walksfor those with visual and hearing loss. The AISM (Italian Association for multiple sclerosis), BALEARES TURISMO, CARPEVITAM NGO, DEFISMED, FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA TURISMO, GEOLIVES) also presented projects.  .

Jean-Bernard Titz, President of Telecom Valley and leader of the m-Tourism commission, announced the release of the commission’s latest white paper (www.m-tourism-day.eu) focusing on “Tourism, ICT and Disability”, which is the result of consultation involving many beneficiaries and experts in tourism, ICT, law,  and the Silver Economy (senior citizens economy).

Follow on Twitter: @TelecomValley @jbdevhelp @CotedAzur4Biz

New Zealand Tourism Guide still getting it wrong

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seeing eye dog from deaf foundation nz website

 

The New Zealand Tourism Guide (http://www.tourism.net.nz/) which is part of the Yellow Pages Group, has recently advised that it has updated its website.  In spite of this update, and in spite of the fact that Access Tourism New Zealand has been pointing out certain misinformation on the site since 2010, no improvements to this aspect have been made.   The Guide still carries on an “Accessible Accommodation” (http://www.tourism.net.nz/accommodation/accessible-accommodation) page the statement:

“For travellers with visual impairment, it is important to check whether accommodations welcome your guide dog”.

Under NZ legislation, guide dogs are legally protected from discrimination by three Acts: The Human Rights Act 1993, Dog Control Act 1996, and Transport Services Licensing Act 1989. This legislation entitles guide dogs to go into any public place and on any public vehicle including: motels, hotels, restaurants, shops, beaches, cinemas, hotels, buses ferries, domestic and international flights, ships, taxis, trains, and so on.  Denying access to a person with a guide dog is a serious offence under NZ law, and – as recommended in 2010 -  it would be well if NZTG changed this statement to better

It is also disheartening to still see a page headed People with Special Needs, which is an unfortunate use of language.

Guest post: New Zealand missing out by failing to accommodate travellers with mobility challenges.

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Reflections on a recent holiday in Alaska and Canada.  Guest post by Roger Loveless.  Roger is a New Zealander who uses an electric wheelchair and recently spent a month travelling with it overseas. He has muscular dystrophy and lives in Hamilton.  He retired from the electric power industry in 2008 and now works part time as an access coordinator for CCS Disability Action (http://www.ccsdisabilityaction.org.nz/). He has always enjoyed travel and experiencing different cultures with his wife Mary.  Next year they will be visiting their son’s family, including two grandchildren, in Britain which will include a weeks “glamping” in a Mongolian Yurt in Dorset.  Picture: Roger and his wife Mary

Taku Helicopter

 

 I have just returned from my first overseas holiday with my electric wheelchair. My wife Mary and I went to the USA and Canada using planes, ships, a helicopter, cable car, taxi cabs, trains, buses and coaches. We did a 14 day Alaskan cruise out of Seattle, the Rocky Mountaineer train from Calgary to Vancouver and some other sightseeing.  At some cruise ship ports of call I couldn’t get off the ship, and at Sitka I had to use a hired manual wheelchair to be able to use the tenders. Some places required advance warning of my needs but what really was far better than New Zealand was the availability of tour buses with hoists for wheelchairs at the back, where they could push a few rows of seats together to make space. We used these in Ketchikan, Juneau, Anchorage, and Vancouver (for a journey to Victoria including a ferry trip).  Then there was the real highlight, with a helicopter ride to the Taku Glacier. I boarded the helicopter using a special lifting seat. 

Really an eye opener as to what can be done if there is a will, supported by at least some legislation. It makes you wonder how much New Zealand is missing out on by failing to accommodate the traveller with mobility challenges. 

I also holiday most years in Paihia (NZ) and note that in 2013/14, 44 cruise liners called in, carrying 73,366 passengers and 32,695 crew. How many of those passengers had mobility issues and didn’t bother to come ashore? As passengers tend to be older people, perhaps 5% (close to 4000 people) had mobility issues and if their companions also stayed on the ship, that would be quite significant. Perhaps these figures are wrong because persons with disabilities merely avoid New Zealand entirely in favour of places where access is treated seriously and they are welcomed.  Wouldn’t it be great if we had shore experiences and tour buses that were accessible? We could even make the effort, advertise the fact and, if we get it right, see positive comments on social media.  Apart from tour buses, Paihia has ferries, boat trips, helicopter rides and even a train from Kawakawa. 

Follow on Twitter: @ccsdisabilitya

VisitEngland funded by EC to promote Accessible Tourism

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Changing of the Guard Buck Palace and Wellington Barracks (27)

At the start of World Travel Market this week, VisitEngland (http://www.visitengland.com/) announced plans for a national drive to promote England as a leading destination for accessible tourism, following a successful bid for funding from the European Commission.   The announcement came as new research by VisitEngland shows the overnight accessible tourism market is now worth £3billion to the England economy, with day visits bringing the figure up to £12.4billion.  The ‘Access for All’ project will be funded by a grant of €125,000 from the European Commission. VisitEngland will partner with seven destinations – including Bath, Leicestershire, Newcastle Gateshead, and Brighton –  to develop and promote their destination for visitors with access needs. As part of this, 56 businesses will be involved in a process to improve their accessibility. Informative visitor guides will be created for each destination to put on show the wide breadth of tourism experiences available, and to promote local tourism businesses that are providing a warm welcome to all visitors, including those with access needs.   VisitEngland will also deliver a national marketing campaign which will go live in late summer/early autumn 2015 to showcase the experiences on offer for visitors with access needs, and encourage more people to take a short break in England.

James Berresford, Chief Executive of VisitEngland noted that as the national tourist board, VisitEngland is committed to ensuring England is a destination that offers a warm welcome for all visitors. “The Access for All project is a fantastic opportunity to continue to build England’s reputation as a leader in accessible tourism, and help grow this important and valuable market, now worth £3billion to England’s economy” said Berresford.   Minister for Tourism, Helen Grant said that the “ Access for All project will help disabled people enjoy England’s world beating tourist destinations. The tourism sector is making a significant contribution to economic growth in this country and we want to keep up that momentum by ensuring our destinations are welcoming to all.”

VisitEngland has taken a leading role in supporting and encouraging tourism businesses to make the most of this valuable market. The project, which will run from October 2014 until March 2016, will expand on VisitEngland’s pilot Access for All project which supported four destinations to create accessible experiences, accompanied by a national marketing campaign launched in March this year with the support of top Paralympians.

Today (4/11/2012), VisitEngland’s lead on Access, Ross Calladine and a host of other speakers will present a WTM Seminar: “Preparing your Destinations for the Accessible Tourism Market: Lessons from Research Practice” in London. 

For more information and to view the full infographic on the Volume and Value of Accessible Tourism in England see http://www.visitengland.org/busdev/bussupport/access/buscase/index.aspx

VisitEngland provides a number of tools and resources to help tourism operators accommodate people with access needs, available at www.visitengland.org/access – including:

• Access Statements – A free online tool allowing businesses to create a description of their premises, to inform people with access needs.

• Online Disability Awareness Training – this online course was developed in partnership with DisabledGO, and is designed to help tourism businesses deliver a warm welcome and excellent service to disabled customers.

• VisitEngland also provides tourism information for people with physical and sensory needs at www.visitengland.com/accessforall

About the European Commission Grant:

 • In July 2014, VisitEngland’s application to the grant programme in the framework of the Preparatory Action, “Tourism and Accessibility for All” was approved by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry.  €125,000 was awarded to the “Access for All” project over an 18-month period up to 31 March 2016 aimed at the design, implementation, promotion and marketing of accessible tourism guides.

• VisitEngland is one of seven successful project applicants, including other organisations from Germany, Italy and Spain.

• Link to the accessible tourism webpage on the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry website.

 Source: VisitEnglandhttp://www.visitengland.org/media/pressreleases/2014/european-commission-grant-to-fund-visitengland-access-for-all-project.aspx  .  Follow on Twitter: @VisitEngland @WTMLondon @RossCalladine @HelenGrantMP @JBerresfordVE

UN DSP forum on Accessible Tourism and Sustainable Development

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The Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) plans to organize a Forum for Accessible Tourism and Sustainable Development for All at The Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo on November 18, 2014.  The aim is to promote accessible tourism as an effective means for poverty eradication, employment generation and social inclusion of persons with accessibility needs.

DSPD is calling for nominations of initiatives (policies, projects and innovative solutions) that have proved successful in the promotion of the accessible tourism and sustainable development. Interested Governmental authorities, UN agencies, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations and private sector partners are encouraged to send nominations by filling an online nomination form at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/accessible-Tourism along with relevant supporting materials to ngo[@]un.org by August 30, 2014. Due to the high volume of nominations, please be as concise as possible. More detailed information may be requested by DSPD after the first-round contact.

The GSSD Expo is a United Nations system-wide global event for south-south and triangular cooperation. The Expo, launched in 2008, has become an annual event co-sponsored by and with more than 25 UN organizations, over 100 UN Member States and a large number of private sectors and civil society organizations.  Designed to showcase and scale up the impact of successful and evidence-based solutions developed and/or practiced by developing countries in addressing development issues, the Expo aims to help the global South realize its shared aspirations for achieving sustainable and equitable development through the sharing and transfer of the south-grown development solutions under innovative triangular and public-private partnership (PPP) arrangements.  The GSSD Expo 2014 will be hosted by the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington D.C. United States, November 17-21.  The Expo is going to focus on sustainable development this year.

Source: http://unsdn.org/call-for-nomination-of-initiatives-that-successfully-promoted-accessible-tourism/#sthash.LrAoxoUP.dpuf  Follow on Twitter: @undesadspd @OAS_official

WTM London Seminar on the Accessible Tourism Market

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The World Travel Market (WTM www.wtmlondon.com/) in London is holding a seminar entitled “Preparing your Destination for the Accessible Tourism Market: Lessons from Research and Practice”.  The seminar is presented by two leaders in the field, the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT, http://www.accessibletourism.org), and Visit Flanders.  Building on the experiences of three leading European accessible tourism destinations, four National Tourism Organization (NTO) managers will explain the business strategies and practical tools they are using to serve this growing market.   In addition, results of three major new studies of Accessible Tourism in Europe: Demand, Supply and Skills Requirements, conducted for the European Commission, will be outlined and discussed by researchers, pointing to recommended policies and actions for NTOs and Destination Management Organizations (DMOs).

The session will be organised as a panel discussion, moderated by European Commission Tourism Policy Officer,  Antonella Correra, addressing these 3 main themes in turn:

 Where is the demand? Reaching the accessible tourism market.

 Mind the accessibility gap. Supply-side requirements and the delivery of accessible services.

 What are the skills requirements and how do we build capacity in the tourism sector to create accessible destinations and businesses?

Speakers include Ross Calladine, Head of Business Support, VisitEngland, Katrien Mampaey & Pieter Ghijsels, VisitFlanders, Belgium, Olaf Schlieper, German National Tourist Board, Graham Miller, School of Tourism Management, University of Surrey, UK, Severine Guisset, Project Manager GfK, Belgium, Chris Veitch, Accessible Tourism Consultant, ENAT, and Kei Ito, Researcher, Valdani Vicari & Associati (VVA), UK.   

 The event will occur at ExCeL, London, 1 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock on 4 November  from 16.00 to 17.30.   Source: ENAT website.  Follow on Twitter: @WTM_London @EUaccesstourism @VisitFlanders @VisitEngland @ChrisGVeitch @GermanyTourism @SHTMatSurrey @GfKBelgium

European Diversity Awards include tourism, hospitality hopefuls

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2013 European Diversity Awards audience

Finalists in the 2014 European Diversity Awards (EDA) have been announced.  They include several in the tourism and hospitality sector.  The awards recognise and celebrate innovation, excellence, creativity and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion by organisations and individuals during 2014.  Theyrecognise excellence in the areas of gender, disability, sexual orientation, age, race, culture and religion across Europe.  The EDAs are unique in recognising all aspects of diversity across the whole of Europe and celebrate the best across both the corporate and campaigning aspects of diversity. The awards are a key date in the diversity calendar in Europe and are widely acknowledged as the “Oscars of diversity”.  There are a number of categories for the year, including Campaigner, Community Project, Diversity Champion, Journalist, Most Inclusive Employer, Marketing Campaign, Company, Employee Network Group, Charity, Role Model, Hero, Diversity Team, and Diversity Programme of the Year.

Follow on Twitter: @diversityaward

Melbourne and Olympic Parks Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2014-2017

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The Melbourne and Olympic Parks (M&OP) have released their Diversity and Inclusion Plan, 2014-2017.  The parks – with a number of ovals, courts, and arenas – cover 40 hectares and host an extensive range of events such as the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam, other major sporting events, and cultural events (for example, concerts by Andrea Botcelli, The Rolling Stones, and Miley Cyrus).   The Plan is based on six key customer focused objectives.  These are that people of all abilities:

1). Can navigate around M&OP

2). Have easy access to all information about M&OP

3). Can enjoy events and functions with their family and friends

4). Have access to the full range of seating options

5). Will be treated as equal and valuable guests in all dealings with M&OP, and finally, that

6). M&OP will leverage its accessible conference facilities to actively promote its expertise in conferences for all abilities.

The plan goes on to detail what strategies will be used to achieve these objectives.  These include the creation of enhanced accessible wayfinding and navigational information on site and online, working with transport providers to enhance accessible public transport to venues, and improving accessible seating and enhance the booking procedure to include total information about accessible seating.

M&OP are to consider a new conference facility strategy to market their facilities to the global disability conference market.  We say that if they do in fact carry out their access enhancement programme, marketing by M&OP should extend beyond this market as all conferences – no matter the subject – are attended by a certain percentage of people who have disabilities who would appreciate fully accessible facilities.

Source: M&OP.

New Dubai hotel has purpose built accessible rooms

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Dubai cityscape

United Arab Emirates headquartered TIME Hotels Management will manage a new five-star hotel located close to Dubai Healthcare City in Oud Metha as the emirate targets growth in the number of medical tourists visiting the city.  Two rooms per floor will be specifically designed to be accessible to people with disabilities – a first for the city, according to the company.  Under development by Awtad Investment Company, the AED200 million hotel is set to open in 2016 and will offer guests a choice of two restaurants, a coffee shop, gymnasium, swimming pool, spa and meeting space.  “Dubai plans to position the emirate as a global medical tourism destination by 2020 with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) targeting 500,000 medical tourists with expected revenues of AED2.6 billion. To support this ambitious strategy it is imperative that Oud Metha’s hospitality capacity is enhanced as the area is currently underserviced in terms of hotel rooms,” said Mohamed Awadalla, CEO, TIME Hotels.

The DHA is targeting a broad spectrum of treatment-seeking visitors including nationals from the GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE) and South Asian medical tourists, which, according to Awadalla, is a fit with TIME Hotels’ own sales and marketing strategy.

Source: Arabian Business. Follow on Twitter: @ArabianBusiness @TIMEHotelsUAE