EC grant helps VisitEngland to expand its Access For All initiative

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Dover (62)

VisitEngland has a grant of €125,000 from the European Commission to expand its “Access for All” initiative.   This follows a successful pilot project in 2013-14 with four destinations: VisitBath, goLeicestershire, NewcastleGateshead, and VisitBrighton.   The current project is partnering with Visit Kent, Marketing Birmingham, Visit Lincoln, Visit Northumberland, Visit Peak District and Derbyshire, Experience Nottinghamshire and VisitBrighton to develop and promote their destination for visitors with access needs.  The project has been running for almost a year now.  It comprises two phases: product development, where businesses are supported in improving their accessibility with the help of access advisors Access New Business , and a national consumer marketing campaign.

Over 50 tourism businesses are being directly supported as part of the project to improve their accessibility. Each business has received:

A second national marketing campaign will be launched in this month (September 2015).   The campaign aims to raise awareness of accessible destinations and businesses in England, improving perceptions of Accessible England.

Source: press release.  Follow on Twitter:  @VisitEnglandBiz @VisitEngland @BrianMSeaman

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Travel businesses missing out on huge market: WTM

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 Travel businesses failing to take into account the disabled market are missing out on up to £80 billion of potential spend in the UK alone. The headline figure was discussed a round table conversation organized by The Travel Tech Show at the World Travel Market (WTM) and Amadeus, which focused on disabled and responsible travel.  The event featured an in-depth and informed discussion as eight experts from both business arenas gathered to discuss the markets. But it was the figure from the UK Government’s 2012 Legacy for Disabled People, Inclusive and Accessible Business which provoked much discussion.  Ataxia South Wales Chairman Alan Jones said the report showed the UK’s estimated 10.6 million disabled people have a combined annual spend on goods and services of up to £80 billion, adding: “It is a big market out there. What’s the travel industry doing about it? In a word, nothing.”  Jones said the problems start as soon as he tries to book a holiday as many people in the industry see his wheelchair rather than the human being using it, leaving agents too embarrassed to deal with.

Enable Holidays Managing Director Lynne Kirby said such problems are endemic in a trade which has failed to educate staff how best to handle disabled people. Amadeus Director of Marketing Rob Sinclair-Barnes added if the market is to be adequately served, it must be all encompassing: “Accessible travel is the only type of travel that has implications from the moment of departure from home to the moment of return.”  However, Virgin Atlantic Passenger Disability Adviser Geraldine Lundy said the trade would need to go even further to meet the market’s needs, adding: “It is even before they (disabled travelers) leave home. It is when they’re thinking about the holiday and booking it. It is about getting the information about where they want to go.”  Lundy said the information needs to be accurate to allow disabled people to make informed decisions. She added it must also take in to account that some disabled people are blind or have learning difficulties and will need the information presented in a different way.  Sinclair-Barnes pointed out that as Baby Boomers enter old age and face increasing health problems, the industry must take action. “It (accessible travel) is a growing market. I’ve found it quite astonishing how little (product) there is.”

Source: World Travel Market.  WTM is the leading global event for the travel industry, and holds a four-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Almost 48,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM.

VisitEngland conference on accessible tourism

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VisitEngland photo of a wheelie and a pushchair user in a souvenir shop

VisitEngland is that country’s national tourist board. Its role is to grow the value of tourism by working in partnership with the industry to deliver inspirational marketing campaigns and to provide advocacy for the industry and visitors. The organisation’s work is underpinned by robust research and customer insights.  VisitEngland has for a number of years been at the forefront of developing accessible tourism for people with disabilities and others who need better access to tourism, travel, and hospitality.  It has carried out a number of initiatives in this area (search here), and annually gives an “Access For All” award at its Visit England Awards for Excellence” celebrations.   Recently, VisitEngland received funding from the European Commission to develop accessible tourism, and is currently part way through an “Access for All” project, developing and promoting 7 high quality accessible tourism itineraries.

This year – as part of English Tourism Week 2015 (14-22 March), VisitEngland will be holding a conference on achieving access for all in tourism venues.   Unlocking the Purple Pound will be held in partnership with Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool on Wednesday 18th March.  Sandcastle won the 2013 Gold Award for accessible tourism.   The  free event will help business owners and managers improve their facilities and services for disabled people and those with other accessibility needs – a market now worth £12.4bn to England’s tourism industry.

With more than 1 in 6  visitors to England likely to have an impairment and a massive 31% uplift in the number of domestic holidays taken by the 55+ age group since 2006, the business case for improving accessibility has never been more compelling.

Sponsored by Aveso, the programme is packed full of practical tips and expert insights, including an Access Statement workshop, top tips for accessible marketing and tailored sessions for attraction and accommodation businesses.

Follow on Twitter: @VisitEngland @VisitEnglandBiz @AvesoCP

VisitEngland continues its “Access For All” project

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Tourist in a wheelchair, and with a suitcase, bank of the Thames, London

A VisitEngland-led “Access for All” project is part-way through developing and promoting  7 high quality accessible tourism itineraries.   It is doing this by supporting tourism businesses to improve information, customer service, and facilities for the benefit of people with access needs and by delivering a mainstream national marketing campaign to promote accessible tourism in England.  It will, therefore, increase opportunities for people with access needs to take holidays and inform them of reliably accessible tourism products and services.   Awareness of accessible destinations will be increased improving perceptions of Accessible England and Europe.   A sustainable legacy will be achieved by upskilling and empowering destination organisations  (DOs) to become local champions of long-term accessible tourism development and developing an Accessible Tourism Itinerary Toolkit for other destinations. New partnerships will be forged between key tourism stakeholders and disability stakeholders.

The ‘Access for All’ project is funded by a grant of €125,000 from the European Commission.

VisitEngland’s Destination Partners include Visit Kent and Visit Brighton (coastal), Visit Birmingham and  Visit Lincoln (city), and Visit Northumberland, Visit Peak District and Derbyshire, and Experience Nottinghamshire (countryside).

The work is organised into 4 work packages:

  • WP1 – Designing, including the appointment of Accessibility Experts, introductory workshops for destination organisation partners, and project start up meetings with business partners in each destination.
  • WP2 – Implementation (Access for All Development Process), including inspection of venues, production of improvement plans, staff training, mystery visits, and updating of access information.
  • WP3 – Dissemination, including to people with access needs via a mainstream consumer marketing campaign.  This will involve the production of itinerary guides, campaign creative, and securing advertorial and editorial space in key specialist media channels, dissemination to businesses via B2B communications plan, video case studies and production of ‘Accessible Itineraries Development Toolkit’, dissemination to other EU member states via the web, and social media coverage provided by European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT).
  • WP4 – Evaluation, including of marketing campaigns against a set of defined measurement vehicles, project monitoring and reporting, and a post-completion project evaluation.

Main Source:  European Commission http://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/tourism/offer/accessible/index_en.htm.   Follow on Twitter: @VisitEngland @RossCalladine @EU_growth  @EUaccesstourism #AccessForAll

Basque developing accessible tourism for all

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Flag of the Basque Country

The  Basque Country is a region at the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.  It is currently working to create “Tourism for All in Basque Country“.  This is one of a number of accessible tourism projects funded by the European Commission.  The project involves developing further an already existing accessibility model to include standards for new services and packages in six itineraries in the country.  The undertaking includes consideration of the whole tourism value chain and involves access assessment of each tourism facility, improvement of the skills of tourism providers to cater for people with access needs, creating tourism packages for people with different access needs, and commercialization and promotion of the access offer through standard and also specific channels.

The lead coordinator of the project is the Fundacion Instituto Gerontologico Matia-Ingema, and partners include various tourism bodies within Spain.  Source: European Commission.    Follow on Twitter: @EU_Growth @MatiaFundazioa

Seven European countries join forces to develop accessible tourism

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S Notts 2 056Italy, Belgium, Spain, Bulgaria, Portugal, Germany, and Denmark are joining forces to develop nine fully accessible itineraries into comprehensive tourism packages. The project is one of a number in accessible tourism funded by the European Commission.   The transnational initiative – named  Project STRING – will market the packages as single or multiple customer-selected preferred combination. The packages will include choices in historic monuments, religious interest, gastronomy and wine-tasting, arts, shopping and  entertainment, and more.

The project will select existing accessible tourist sites and facilities to form a continuing, well- linked route with rich attractions and tailored services, then promote and market these.    Project STRING aims  to better exploit the experiences and itineraries realized by some of the partners in the  framework of the League of Historical and Accessible Cities (LHAC);  to provide versatile, high-quality and fully accessible tourist products to all kinds of people with access needs;  to present accessible tourist products to the customers through easily-accessible channels and in a flexible, adaptable and thus more attracting way;  to disseminate at a wider level the best practices and know-how in accessible tourism achieved by the partners as well as by other members of the LHAC; and to foster cooperation among SMEs, public administrations, foundations, associations and other stakeholders to improve accessibility and contribute to a better quality of life for all.

The lead partner is CPD – Consulta per le Persone in Difficoltà ONLUS (Italy).

Source: European Commission. Follow on Twitter: @EU_Growth  @Turismabile

Boomers “agents of change” in tourism: SMG Consulting

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Boomers and seniors at the Tower of London

SMG Consulting is a Californian company which carries out research and develops strategic plans and tourism marketing programs in tourism, recreation, and hospitality.  They have just released their eight annual SMG Tourism Outlook for 2015.  In it, they describe several agents of change in the industry, including demographics and consumer behaviour (the others are climate, and tourism funding).

The report points out that by 2029, more than 20% of the total U.S. population will be over the age of 65. Although the number of Baby Boomers will decline through mortality, this shift toward an increasingly older population is expected to endure. By 2056, the population 65 years and over is projected to become larger than the population under 18 years. While Boomers are getting older, they still represent 25% of the U.S. population with the highest disposable income, a significant share of the tourism industry bottom line.The report goes on to say that today’s Baby Boomer is quite different, however, than a decade ago, even a year ago. Following the free spirited lead of their Millennial kids and Gen Xer co-workers, Baby Boomers are mimicking their leisure patterns and pursuit of fun in their older years. The report calls this “Aging Younger”.

Because of this, some traditional pursuits of older generations are in decline.  For example, the report points out that in the USA, golf is on the downswing.   As Baby Boomers age and move on to other passions, Gen Xers and Millennials are not replacing the void. Following suit, Baby Boomers are also spending more of their precious time in a variety of activities such as food pairings and motorcycle touring making them less inclined to play the traditional 18 rounds. A similar situation exists in skiing, that is, as Baby Boomers age and turn to other passions, Generation Xers and Millennials are not replacing the volume or frequency.

Boomers are healthier and wealthier than ever, and more willing to engage in numerous activities. For example, WanderLust, a yoga music foodie festival, and the SnowGlobe music festival, attract both a younger and older audience. Priorities with health, community and ecology, Wanderlust festivals are popping up all over, extending the life of tired destinations and many of their traditional Baby Boomer visitor segments. Remember, Baby Boomers were raised on Rock ‘n’ Roll and self-expression. Baby Boomers who are the parents of Millennials want new experiences too. They like music festivals and yoga, which keep them young, and the destination even younger. Chasing youth is a great revenue generator, especially for mature destinations that desperately need repositioning.

Source: SMG Consulting (http://smgonline.net/).  Follow on Twitter: @SMGtahoe

Website Accessibility: A New Frontier Of Inclusion

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Chris Lona of CL Design is making the web/digital a better, accessible experience for disabled and ageing people. He hopes to help organizations generate more revenue by being more inclusive of this group pf customers online. In addition, he hopes to help organizations improve compliance with accessibility initiatives and mandates.  In this guest blog, he writes about web access.

Website front page with audio

Turn on your sound and visit http://www.sitellites.com/new_Zealand/

Keep your hand down if you’ve ever had a problem accessing a website. After all why make you go through extra effort if you don’t have to… Imagine that the challenges you’ve had accessing websites were compounded by being visually, auditory, physically or cognitively challenged? You would be even more frustrated than you were when you had the original challenges.   If you are a business owner in tourism, travel or hospitality and have gone to great lengths to ensure your destination is accessible, how accessible is your website which is the first impression and gateway to your offerings? If a disabled or older person wants to visit your destination and they cannot access your website, do you think they will book the trip through your company? Does it make sense – since your destination is about a superior, accessible experience – that your site should be as well? Canada, Europe the US and other countries all have legislation, mandates, or initiatives that address the issue of web accessibility.     In 2008 retailer Target had to pay $6 million because their websitewas not accessible. The consensus around a standard for web access generates from the W3C’s WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) which has a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility. A nice goal to be sure but the realities and “best practices” involved leave a lot to be desired. What has come out of this as “best practices” is a web where it is completely acceptable to build a website and then find ways to make it accessible with assistive technology mostly for the visually challenged. This main assistive technology for the visually impaired is called a screen reader. It is software that reads the information on a web page aloud in a synthetic computer voice. But this assistive technology presents several access barriers of its own—cost, computer requirements, learning curve, lack of accessible websites and a robotic, synthetic voice. There is a new mandate in the U.S. called the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act: It contains (in short) “ground-breaking protections to enable people with disabilities to access broadband, digital and mobile innovations — a study conducted by the FCC revealed that people with disabilities are less likely to use Internet-based communications technologies”.   For the web this will mean that certain videos will be required to be closed captioned for the auditory challenged.   In terms of any mandates for inclusion of the physically and cognitively challenged when they use the internet, there are vague references to inclusion of a variety of people with differing disabilities. What all of this means for businesses and their commitment to (and compliance with) web accessibility initiatives is a lack of access for them. Where will they turn to make their site be able to be read by a screen reader? How will they find the right resource to make sure their online videos are closed captioned? What resources exist to ensure that the physically and cognitively challenged will also be able to access their online and physical world experience? The fact that they will be forced into providing web access as a piecemeal approach will mean that fewer companies will bother due to the difficulties and expense.   The crux of the issue lies with the fact that “best practices” treat web accessibility as an afterthought rather than as an integrated design. A building is built with accessibility as an integral part of the design. What do you think? Should accessibility for websites be integrated from the ground up to create better online experiences for everyone? Contact: cld@cldesign.co. (Contains audio); www.cldesign.co Visit demo at http://www.sitellites.com/new_Zealand/

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

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

United Nations to participate in first World Summit “DESTINATIONS FOR ALL”

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Logo Destinations for All

Ms. Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), will inaugurate the first World Summit Destinations for All, to be held in Montreal October 19-22, 2014. Bas was appointed Director of UNDESA’s DSPD in May 2011.  She is a specialist in international politics, human rights, and social development.  The summit aims to identify and implement the necessary measures to establish international tourism that is inclusive and accessible to everyone.  More specifically, the event is expected to:

1) Make progress in determination of a set of international norms and standards with regards to accessible tourism and transportation

2) Highlight the economic benefits for destinations to be completely inclusive and accessible, and to develop and enhance accessible tourism products

3) Establish a world partnership and a common international strategy to develop universal accessibility for infrastructures, tourism services, transport, and to increase the availability of information on the accessibility of different destinations

The main driver of the conference is Keroul, a key consultant for Tourisme Québec regarding accessibility.  Many prestigious international organizations support the Summit, including the World Tourism Organization, the International Organization of Social Tourism, the World Centre of Excellence for Destinations, the European Network for Accessible Tourism, the ONCE Foundation in Spain, and Association Tourisme et Handicaps France.  Members of the steering committee and programme committee come from around the world, including Australasia (Access Tourism New Zealand being one), Asia, Northe America, Europe and the UK, and the Middle East.  The co-chairs of the summit are André Vallerand of Keroul and Ivor Ambrose of ENAT.

Bucks Accessible Tourism workshop attended by European experts

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Twenty-five of Europe’s leading lights in the Accessible Tourism Field gathered for an Accessible Tourism Workshop at the Oculus in Aylesbury on March 1st to share best practice and to see how new standards relating to more inclusive visitor standards could be delivered as the norm.  The workshop was organised by the Buckinghamshire Legacy Board in partnership with the Buckinghamshire Disability Service who aim to make Buckinghamshire the most accessible visitor destination in Britain. To do this they aim to encourage through a new Buckinghamshire wide Destination Management Organisation, attractions, accommodation providers, transport and hospitality providers to all aspire to the “Stoke Mandeville Standard” around accessible tourism visitor experience.

Ross Calladine, Accessible Tourism Manager for Visit England helped set the scene by outlining the national context where Visit England have secured regional growth funding to work alongside a number of destinations to develop new visitor guides and promotional material based on the visitor experience rather than any perceived barriers to services. This approach was supported Brian Seaman of Accessible Outlook who explained that the most important skill for a tourism business was to listen to its customers and to make sure it adapted its services to their needs.  Seaman said  the most important message he could provide to any tourism business looking to make its service more accessible was:  “customer service, is what the customer thinks it is.”  This ethos became a recurring theme of the workshop with many speakers saying how they had benefitted from taking personal care with all of their customers and how by doing the right thing they had also benefitted their overall profitability. Geraldine Lundy, Head of Accessibility at Virgin Atlantic explained their philosophy which was based on a total customer experience and highlighted how by employing people with different disabilities had given the company a competitive edge and better insight into all of its customers

Magnus Berglund from Scandic Hotels, one of the fastest growing hotel chains in Europe, said simply that “I can get you more business”  He explained that award winning Scandic had adopted a simple 110 point standard, many of which were mandatory for all of its hotels. Many of the standards such as providing a stick holder in all receptions were extremely cheap to implement but had proved instrumental in increasing the profitability for the hotel chain.  Scandic offers free web training for best serving guests with disabilities.   Damiano La Rocca, the director of double award winning tour operator Seable Holidays, shared his passion for making exciting accessible holidays, creating a fully accessible offer that includes sport activities, cultural excursions and gastronomic experiences.

The delegates agreed that 10 themes had emerged from the  workshop:

• Always listen to and ask questions of your customers
• Don’t be fearful
• Often, accessibility costs very little
• Where possible, keep it simple
• Embrace innovation
• Share knowledge and involve all of your staff
• Doing the right thing can also be financially rewarding
• In the UK many aspects of visitor accessibility are done very well
• We need to share and celebrate best practice more widely throughout the UK and internationally

At the end of session, delegates agreed to work together to start planning for a much larger event linked to the Paralympic Heritage Flame Lighting for the 2016 Rio Summer Games.

Source: Seable and BucksLegacy.  Follow on Twitter: @BucksLegacy @BuDs_UK @RossCalladine @VisitEngland @BrianMSeaman @VirginAtlantic @ScandicGlobal @SeableHolidays

Brighton Hove one of four destinations to work with VisitEngland on Access for All campaign

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Three women in wheelchairs at Brighton from the Brighton Hove CC website

Brighton & Hove is one of four destinations to have been chosen to work with England’s national tourist board (VisitEngland), on its Access for All campaign aimed at championing and improving accessible tourism in England, and making it a leading destination for accessible tourism.  Brighton & Hove was invited to take part in the initiative because of its consistent commitment to improving accessibility for visitors. Accessible tourism is estimated to be worth over £2billion a year to the domestic tourism industry, and has strong growth potential.

VisitBrighton is the official destination marketing body for Brighton & Hove and is part of Brighton and Hove City Council.   As part of the Access For All Campaign, which is funded by £100,000 from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund plus contributions from partners, VisitBrighton coordinated work to identify top class accommodation and attractions, ensure they are delivering the highest possible standard of access for visitors and to identify areas for improvement. A range of tourism experiences, including visiting the Royal Pavilion, Preston Manor and the city’s museums as well as three hotels, Thistle Brighton, Jurys Inn and Hilton Brighton Metropole, were assessed.

Primary audits looked at access to each of the hotels and attractions, including public areas and bedrooms, signage, literature and websites, to assess accessibility for wheelchair users, and hearing and visually impaired visitors. As part of the process front-line staff received training and the businesses had to work through an improvement plan to ensure all areas were as accessible as possible for disabled visitors.

The participating businesses now feature in a new local access friendly guide available in either PDF, large print Word or audio format from www.visitengland.com/access-brighton. For those who cannot access the guides online a limited number of printed copies are available from the Visitor Information Point at the Brighton Centre box office.  Offers, downloadable factsheets about accessible places to stay, visit and eat, and maps showing step-free access to the main hotels and attractions, the locations of dropped kerbs and disabled parking bays are also detailed on the VisitBrighton website www.visitbrighton.com/plan-your-visit/accessibility

The other destinations involved are Leicestershire, Newcastle Gateshead, and Bath.

About Growing Tourism Locally – a Regional Growth Fund (RGF) Tourism Investment Project:   In October 2011 VisitEngland’s application to the Government’s Regional Growth Fund was approved by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). £19.8 million was awarded to deliver a three year partner marketing project entitled ‘Growing Tourism Locally’.  The project aims to stimulate the domestic visitor market to grow local economies through increased tourism activity by UK residents. The project enables VisitEngland to work in partnership to facilitate growth at a local level, further amplifying the second Holidays at Home are GREAT campaign that was launched in March this year.  ‘Growing Tourism Locally’ has the potential to create the equivalent of 9,100 full time jobs across England and is focussed on areas suffering economic challenges with tourism growth potential. The RGF funding is matched with private sector funding at national and local levels to create a project of £41million over 3 years.  It is a £3.2 billion fund designed to help companies in England to grow. So far £2.6 billion of funding has been allocated to support projects and programmes committed to deliver sustainable jobs and economic growth. Round 5 will open on 11 October and close on 9 December. For more information, www.bis.gov.uk/rgf

Source: Press Release.  Follow on Twitter: @BrightonHoveCC @VisitEngland

VisitEngland launches national marketing campaign to promote Accessible Tourism

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Portrait of Richard 111 from the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre website

In the spirit of Olympic and Paralympic legacy, VisitEngland has launched a national marketing campaign aimed at championing and improving accessible tourism in England, a sector worth over £2billion a year* to the domestic tourism industry, with strong growth potential. The national tourist board has worked with a number of destinations and the Disabled Persons Railcard to develop guides highlighting fantastic and accessible tourism experiences across the country. The Access for All Campaign aims to position England as a leading destination for accessible tourism.

The campaign, funded by £100,000 from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF) plus contributions from partners, is a cost-effective way for selected English destinations to showcase their accessible tourism businesses and attract more visits from disabled travellers and others with access needs, and their companions.

Each destination has selected top class accommodation and attractions which have then been through an Access for All programme developed by VisitEngland to ensure they’re delivering the highest standard of access for visitors. These places to stay and visit are featured in a series of local guides that highlight key attributes of the destination as well as promoting it as access friendly. The four destinations involved in the campaign are listed below, with a few highlights of what is on offer:

Leicestershire – Situated in the heart of the country, Leicestershire has been welcoming visitors for more than 2,000 years – everyone from Roman armies to medieval Kings and Queens. Visitors to the city and county can explore its unique heritage in a new accessible package, Stay Play Explore Glorious Heritage. Visit the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre, site of the dramatic conclusion to the Wars of the Roses, where Richard III lost his life and Henry Tudor was crowned king. From here, visit the Richard III exhibition at Leicester’s Guildhall to continue your discovery of this intriguing monarch, before taking afternoon tea at The Belmont Hotel. The National Brewery Centre makes a perfect pit stop, and celebrates the history, art and fun of brewing.  Finally, see the National Memorial Arboretum and Snibston Discovery Museum, the largest science and technology museum in the East Midlands. The Stay Play Explore Glorious Heritage package includes entry to a choice of three out of five attractions and an overnight stay at the 4-star Hinckley Island Hotel for just £109. Each site has completed VisitEngland’s Access for All programme and offers excellent facilities and access.

NewcastleGateshead – A must-see for visitors to NewcastleGateshead is the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, with its four accessible gallery spaces, it has an ever-changing programme of exhibitions. NewcastleGateshead is home to Europe’s largest shopping and leisure centre, intu Metrocentre which offers a range of services for visitors with accessibility needs, including Shopmobility, assisted changing facilities, and free wheelchair hire. The city is also home to one of the world’s premier music venues, Sage Gateshead. This ‘Access for All’ award-winning venue’s extensive access facilities include level access throughout, hearing loop systems, 35 accessible toilets and monitored light levels in all areas.  At the end of a long day, head back to the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead, an award-winning hotel set on the historic Quayside with fantastic views over the River Tyne. There are twelve accessible guest rooms, including three Executive rooms which have access to a private lounge and panoramic views of the city.

Brighton – Bustling seaside destination Brighton & Hove has a jam-packed cultural calendar, making it a top spot for a seaside break. Take in Brighton’s art culture with visits to the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery and the Hove Museum & Art Gallery. Heritage fans can visit Brighton’s spectacular seaside palace, the Royal Pavilion, with easy access throughout the ground floor, or visit the nearby Preston Manor, a delightful Edwardian country house with the ground floor, basement and walled garden accessible for all visitors. Thistle Brighton, Jurys Inn and Hilton Brighton Metropole have all been through VisitEngland’s Access for All programme and feature guest rooms accessible for wheelchair users and visually or hearing impaired guests.  VisitBrighton offers downloadable factsheets about access in the city and a map showing step free access to the main hotels and attractions, and the locations of dropped kerbs around the city.

Bath – For centuries, Bath has enchanted everyone from ancient Romans to Jane Austen and it continues to offer everything required for a perfect weekend break: from heritage sites and contemporary culture to top hotels and excellent food. You can take in the atmosphere and impressive architecture on a fully personalised tour with Bath Parade Guides. Renovations to The Roman Baths – one of the wonders of Roman England – have made the Baths accessible for all, and include a lift to the lower level museum, level access, and ramps across ancient Roman obstacles. The Bath for Everyone offer for £74.50 will transport you to the city’s origins and ensure you get to know the best of Bath. Take in Bath’s culture and visit the Fashion Museum, housed in the impressive 18th century Assembly Rooms. All floors are accessible and equipped with ramps, a lift and level access throughout. Victoria Art Gallery is home to a plethora of international artists from the 15th century to the present day. Make a weekend of it with a stay at the Holiday Inn Express, where seven purpose-built accessible guest rooms have been designed to suit a variety of access needs.

The full list of partners involved in the Access for All campaign can be found in the destination guides which are downloadable from VisitEngland.com/accessforall

James Berresford, chief executive of VisitEngland said: “England is a very accessible destination with plenty on offer for everyone. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase these particular locations as shining examples of best practice; to build on the legacy of the 2012 Paralympic Games and encourage tourism businesses to make the most of the accessible tourism market, which has enormous potential for growth. Whether exploring the wonders of Roman England in Bath, enjoying a vibrant seaside break in Brighton, journeying through Leicestershire’s heritage, or taking in the bustle of NewcastleGateshead, with these guides you can enjoy a fantastic holiday and feel confident that the places you visit are working hard to meet your access needs.”

Guides can be downloaded in either PDF, large print Word or audio format from  VisitEngland.com/accessforall.  A limited number of printed copies are available for those who cannot access the guides online. Email qad@VisitEngland.org or call 0207 578 1454.  For more information contact Angelah Sparg, Corporate Communications Manager Tel: 02075781482, Email Angelah.sparg@visitengland.org or Sarah Long, Head of Corporate Communications Tel: 020 7578 1452, Email sarah.long@visitengland.orgwww.visitengland.org

*In 2009, 11% of all domestic trips included someone with a health condition or impairment – a total of 11.28 million trips worth £1.9 billion (Great Britain Tourism Survey, 2009). In 2010, 1.8% of all international visits to England were by someone with a health condition or impairment – a total of 576 thousand trips worth £341 million (International Passenger Survey, 2010.) • VisitEngland provides a number of tools and resources to help tourism operators accommodate people with access needs, available at www.visitengland.org/access and tourism information for people with physical and sensory needs at www.visitengland.com/accessforall

Source: Press release.  Follow on Twitter: @VisitEngland @VisitEnglandBiz @JBerresfordVE @RossCalladine

Scott Rains: People with disabilities are THE market, not a niche

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Scott Rains with a lion from Vimeo website

International travel and inclusion design consultant and author of the Rolling Rains Report, Scott Rains discusses accessible (or inclusive) tourism in New Mobility magazine.  Rains says that it is time for people with disabilities (PwDs) to “stop insisting we’re a market niche”.  This is because PwDs “cross-cut all niches and all demographics.”   Rains goes on to say that PwDs cover all economic brackets and travel for the same reasons as everyone else.  “We date, we marry, we have families” says Rains.  The article goes on to describe results from a survey carried out by New Mobility.  The survey found that about 44% of PwDs travel for family vacations, 32% for couple getaways, and 19% for work-related trips.  That’s a “lot of family members, lovers, and co-workers all benefiting from access technically needed by only one person”, says the article.  The survey also found that about 34% of PwDs aim to book rooms in the US$50-$100 range, 45% in the $100-$150 range, and 11% in the $150-$200 range.

Follow on Twitter: @srains @NewMobilityMag

VisitEngland and others write about the importance of the ageing market

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Picture of beach cabins on the front of the Visit England report

In a new publication on “Domestic Leisure Tourism Trends for the next Decade”, VisitEngland (England’s National Tourism Board) identifies 5 trends influencing domestic tourism in the next ten years.  The first on the list is demography, with a concurrent trend in the need for accessibility.  The report states that:

Changes in the population and demographic make-up of England over the next decade will have a transformative effect on society – and significant implications for consumers’ leisure choices. Common to many of the trends in this section is the changing shape of the family – something evident in the rising number of older people and grandparents’ increasing involvement in childcare, and also in the diverse structures and types of family. Overall, the population of England will grow, but this growth will not be spread evenly across age groups. There will be a very well understood trend is the growth in the number of older people and rise in the average age of the country – referred to as the ageing society. Not every section of society is growing; there will actually be a decline in the number of people aged 35-49 over the next few years, leading to a ‘squeezed middle’ generation. The medium term future will also see a rise in the number of younger people, as a result of a sustained rise in fertility rates since the mid 1990s – a baby boom.

The report goes on to say that the implications of these shifts on domestic leisure tourism will be profound. The rising number of older people not only signals a change in the needs of this particular group – there is an implication, for example, for all types of business to meet accessibility needs – but also a shift in their attitudes. The next retired generation will be heavily comprised of the baby boomer cohort, who differ greatly from previous older generations in their attitudes to leisure – they are generally more affluent and far more leisure focussed than previous generations of older people.  Businesses and destinations in the tourism market will need to adapt to cater for an increasing number of intergenerational family holidays.  The ageing population will intensify – in three decades time, there will be more than 9 million over 75s in England (twice as many as there are currently) making the importance of catering for both older and intergenerational groups a crucial implication for decades to come. The appetite for travel and tourism amongst the oldest groups in society is likely to increase over time (‘healthy life expectancy’ is increasing, as well as overall life expectancy), but
accommodation and travel options that can cater for people with reduced mobility will be in great demand.

Of course, an ageing society is not going to just affect English domestic tourism.  Access Tourism New Zealand has for a long time been publishing blogs about the need for the New Zealand tourism and travel sector to sit up and take notice of demographic trends.  New Zealand is getting older.  According to the 2013 NZ Census, the median age (half are younger, and half older, than this age) of the population continued to increase, reaching 38.0 years in 2013 compared with 35.9 years in 2006.  The number of people aged 50–69 years rose to 989,364, an increase of 21.5% since 2006. People in this age range made up 23.3% of the population in 2013, compared with 20.2% in 2006. The number of people aged 65 years and over continued to increase. In 2013, there were 607,032 people in this age group, making up 14.3% of the population. This was an increase from 12.3% of the population in 2006 and 12.1% in 2001.  Over 73,000 people were aged 85 years or over at the time of the 2013 Census. There was a 29.4% increase in this age group since 2006.

In the USA, Mark Bradbury (senior director, Insights and Integrated Marketing, AARP Media Sales) explain why 50+ travellers will rule the airways, railways and hotel hallways into 2014 and beyond.  According to Bradbury, the 50+ traveller is the lifeblood of the travel industry.  They are responsible for 48% of all vacation expenditures, up from 42% just five years ago—a trend that will continue as 50+ population growth outpaces that of 18-49 by a 3:1 margin over the next decade, according to the U.S. Census. People 50+ consider travel more of a necessity than a luxury, as evidenced by a post-recession increase of 25% in their travel spending. Since 2007, 50+ vacation spending is up nearly $20 million, compared to a $1.7 billion drop among 18-49. 50+ travellers spend 23% more on domestic vacations and 22% more on foreign vacations than younger travellers, and spend more high-end. With more time and money at their disposal, older Boomers eager for new experiences are growing the 60+ segment of the travel market. Since Boomers started turning 60 just seven years ago, the 60+ travel market has grown by 24%, or 3.6 million travellers.  Younger Boomers value gratification that can be realized today.  Boomers are at the core of several travel trends, including: ecotourism, adventure travel, medical tourism, multigenerational travel, passion/hobby vacations (that is, combining a vacation with a passion, such as biking, language learning, food, wine, etc.), and spiritual travel. They are also increasingly switched on to digital media.  In summary, no one travels more than Boomers, and no age group is wealthier.

Worldwide, older people are also increasingly switched on to digital media.  In New Zealand 77% of those aged 55-64 are connected to the internet, 61% of those aged 65-74, and 32% of those 75+.

In other areas, SilverGroup reports that those 50+ comprise 35% of all travel and 80% of all cruises in the EC,  Japanese 50+ will comprise 80% of the total tourism dollar across key Asian Markets by 2015, and Chinese 50+ will comprise 39% of total overseas travel and 66% of spending this year (2014 – MasterCard Asia Pacific and ING).   By 2015, those 65+ will spend US$129bn on travel and leisure (SilverGroup).

For tips on travelling as a senior, visit Tourism Review.

@VisitEnglandBiz @VisitEngland @Tourism_Review @SilverGroup @StatisticsNZ

Village 4 All a finalist in two United Nations World Tourism Organization worldwide projects

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V4A banner from their website

Village for all – V4A® is the International Quality Brand Hospitality for all that provides information to people with disabilities, those with food or environmental allergies, seniors, those with health needs, and families with small children, so that they can make informed choices about where to spend their holidays.  Village for All (V4A® ) is a finalist in two United Nations World Tourism Organization worldwide projects :

UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Enterprises: International Quality Brand for Hospitality for All

UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Research and Technology

Every year since 2003, the UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism have honoured tourism initiatives that contribute to advance tourism through knowledge and innovation, in line with the principles of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Roberto Vitali, President of V4A® says that V4A® identifies closely with the founding values of the award, and that they have placed Ethics, Innovation and Knowledge at the basis of their work. “In 2008, when we first started the V4A® adventure, we knew that we were being pioneers” says Vitali. “However, we have achieved this level of “Global” success thanks to the many other people all over the world who have shared this adventure with us, through the networks that we belong to. Right from the outset, we envisaged a project that could ensure that anyone, regardless of their conditions, could have a holiday in any country, and we did this by promoting the culture of Inclusion and Responsibility, without forgetting that this essential human right is also an exceptional opportunity for businesses. We have developed a V4A Software, which took us more than 3 years of research and development, precisely so that we could make it systematic and economically viable to work in Accessible Tourism. Now, we can offer our services to any country, guaranteeing a quality level that would have been inconceivable in the past.”

As well as founder of V4A®, Vitali is a member and spokesman of the Commission for the Promotion of Accessible Tourism to the Ministry of Tourism, and technical referent for FISH (Italian Federation for Overcoming Handicaps),  Tourism sector

The finalist’s award is scheduled for January 22 in Madrid at the UNWTO Gala Dinner and a  Knowledge Network Symposium.  Also in Madrid from 22 to 26 January FITUR – Feria Internacional deTurismo – will be held, and V4A® will have a stand there.

Source: Press release. Information Elisa Meneghini +39 0532 067120; e-mail: stampa@V4A.it Twitter: @Villageforall @Vitali_Roberto @UNWTO @Mi_BACT @Fitur_

EC: Barrier-free travel: a win-win for society and EU tourism

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Wheelchair sign at a beac from the EC website

The European Commission Enterprise and Industry magazine reports that barrier-free travel is a win-win for society and EU tourism.  Making tourism more accessible is essential to the development of new markets and services that will help Europe’s tourism industry thrive. By making basic adjustments to facilities and information services, senior citizens and travellers with special access needs will promote equal opportunities, social inclusion, and boost the tourism industry.

Senior citizens and people with special needs have the desire and the right to travel like everyone else. However, their travel experiences are often restricted by physical barriers such as transportation constraints, inaccessible accommodation and tourism sites and a general lack of information.  Senior citizens are an essential element to the European tourism industry. Currently, more than 128 million Europeans are between 55 and 80 years old, and according to current demographic trends, this proportion is expected to increase. However, the potential for senior travel has not yet been fully exploited: Only 41 % of seniors between 55 and 75 currently travel.  Tourism authorities, as well as industry and senior organisations, are being encouraged to engage in a stronger public-private partnership. In this context, the Commission is preparing to launch an initiative, ‘Europe, the best destination for seniors’, which is designed to increase the flow of senior tourists, particularly during the low and medium seasons, between countries both inside and outside the EU.

According to the World Health Organization/World Bank, an estimated one billion people in the world live with disabilities. Together with their families, that means approximately a third of the world’s population is directly or indirectly affected by disability.  Many people have access needs, whether or not related to a physical condition (e.g. wheelchair users, visual, hearing impairment, allergies). For example, older and less mobile people or people with pushchairs have access needs, which can become a huge obstacle when going on holiday.  For those people, travelling can be a real challenge, as finding the information on accessible services, checking luggage on a plane, booking a room with special access needs often prove to be difficult, costly and time consuming.

In order to promote accessible tourism, the Commission this year (2013), dedicated European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) awards 2013 to locations that excel in accessible tourism.  Destinations in 19 countries were recognised for their efforts in developing accessible tourism offers.  In addition, barriers that restrict travel within or to Europe are being lifted. The EU boasts a comprehensive set of passenger rights which apply regardless of the transport used.

Follow on Twitter: @EU_enterprise

New York City launches new resturant access programme

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New York City Mayors Office for People with Disabilities restaurant sign

New York City has launched a Restaurant Access Programme (RAP) designed to provide restaurants with the ability to advertise if they are wheelchair-friendly.  To qualify, restaurants  complete a “RAP Survey”, which can be done online or by calling the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). If the restaurant qualifies, it is given a RAP decal that can be posted in the restaurant window to promote the fact that it is “Wheelchair-Friendly”. The MOPD will also promote accessible restaurants  as being “Wheelchair-Friendly”. The survey is voluntary and does not affect restaurant licensing.    NYC is implementing the programme to assist restaurants to increase business by tapping into “a customer base comprised of people with disabilities who are often overlooked and may not be aware that they can be accommodated at many of New York City’s fine restaurants”.  The survey has detailed drawings and measurements to assist restaurants in assessing access at their premises.  For more information, go to http://on.nyc.gov/rwfd or www.nyc.gov/mopd/rap

Follow on Twitter: @NYC_MOPD

Auckland conference on understanding and marketing to older consumers

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Senior couple on the beach from the conference brochure

 A two-day conference in Auckland next March will discuss targeting and marketing to older consumers.  Young at Heart will be chaired by Doug Lloyd, senior lecturer in marketing and advertising at Auckland University of Technology. Lloyd recently gave a presentation (The Great Ignored:  How the Media Industry Fails to Embrace the Mega-trend of Ageing) at the Third International Conference on Ageing and Society in Chicago.  Subjects to be discussed at the conference will include defining market potential, knowing market needs and behaviour, tactics for success, and strategies for customer retention.  There will also be post-conference workshops.  Speakers include those from business, marketing firms (such as Senioragency, which is dedicated to 50+), organizations like the NZ Symphony Orchestra, NGOs, and one from one of New Zealand’s few accessible tourism companies (Kasteel Craw, Accessible New Zealand).

This is an important market sector.  In New Zealand for example, the over 50s are responsible for purchasing:

  • 45% of all new cars sold, and 80% of top end cars
  • 50% face care products
  • 55% of coffee
  • 40% yoghurt and dairy products
  • 25% toys
  • 35% of total travel and 80% of all cruise bookings

In addition, they have an  intangible influence on both younger and older family member purchasing decisions

Worldwide, the seniors economy ranks No. 3 after the United States and China. In the USA, there are more than 100 million consumers who are 50 or older.  They:

  • generate $7 trillion a year in goods and services
  • are generally better off financially,
  • have special interests in leisure travel, health, exercise, internet shopping and digital gadgets
  • growing in number yearly
  • are one of the country’s prime engines of commerce and jobs whether working or spending retirement dollars
  • account for close to half of all spending in entertainment, apparel and other important sectors
  • hold 80% of the country’s personal net worth

As has been pointed out on this website many times before (1, 2 etc), the New Zealand tourism industry ignores this market at its peril.