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Press Release   •   Oct 19, 2017 10:23 BST

A man with a visual impairment at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. Photographer: Chris Watt

With more than half of people with access requirements avoiding going to new places if they can’t find information about accessibility, VisitEngland and VisitScotland have formed a unique partnership to help businesses tap into the lucrative Accessible Tourism market.

The national tourism organisations have launched a new, free to use website for the easy production and publication of Accessibility Guides. An Accessibility Guide is produced by tourism operators to provide potential visitors with important accessibility information about their venue and service.

The website provides tourism venues with an opportunity to increase business by providing information to potential visitors with access requirements in a user-friendly format. As well as being easier for businesses to complete, the new guide format standardises how information is presented making it easier for disabled customers, their friends and family to compare venues.

Research shows that one in five people in the UK have access requirements. This includes not only wheelchair users, but also people with hearing loss, visual impairments, older people, families with young children and many more. In 2015, £12 billion was spent in England, and £1.3 billion in Scotland, on trips where a member of the party had an impairment. This includes day trips, domestic overnight trips and inbound trips.

A survey by Euan’s Guide found that 54 per cent of people with access requirements avoid going to new places if they can’t find information about accessibility. It is therefore imperative that businesses cater for this market by providing up front, essential information about their venue’s accessibility.

As part of the Equality Act 2010, a service provider has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled people are not put at a substantial disadvantage compared to those who are not disabled.

VisitEngland and VisitScotland’s Accessible Tourism programmes have been supported by the UK and Scottish governments respectively. By working in partnership, the organisations have ensured they bring a unified approach creating consistency for disabled visitors.

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive at VisitScotland, said:

“It is our aim to make tourism inclusive and accessible for all, so that every single person can benefit from all that Scotland has to offer. It also represents a huge commercial opportunity for the country with accessible tourism spend valued at £1.3bn. A report released by Business Disability Forum found that 75 per cent of disabled people and their families have walked away from a service provider at a cost of £1.8 billion to UK businesses every month as a result of poor disability awareness.*

“Our new website, created in partnership with VisitEngland, will help businesses produce informative guides in a user-friendly format, that will promote inclusion and enable all our customers to have the opportunity to achieve, to have fun, to live life in the same way as anybody else.” “This is a marvellous initiative that recognises the need for disabled people to be able to have a holiday and rely on accessible and inclusive tourist infrastructures.

“This successful partnership between VisitScotland and VisitEngland will allow even more people to make an informed choice about access to holiday facilities, enabling them to explore more of our countryside and some of Scotland’s most iconic attractions.”

VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said:

“Our research shows that visitors in this important market value clear, concise accessibility information from tourism providers. The new accessibility guides will allow travellers to compare attractions, accommodation businesses and other venues before choosing their destination, enabling them to make an informed choice.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said:

“This is a marvellous initiative that recognises the need for disabled people to be able to have a holiday and rely on accessible and inclusive tourist infrastructures.

“This successful partnership between VisitScotland and VisitEngland will allow even more people to make an informed choice about access to holiday facilities, enabling them to explore more of our countryside and some of Scotland’s most iconic attractions.”

To view the new website go to www.accessibilityguides.org 

To find out more about Accessible Tourism go to http://www.visitscotland.org/business_support/advice_materials/advicelink_guides/accessible_tourism.aspx 

ENDS

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • To ensure everyone can safely enjoy Scotland’s amazing countryside and landscapes, VisitScotland encourages all visitors to fully respect their surroundings by behaving in a responsible and appropriate way.
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit www.gov.scot or follow @scotgovESIF
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit visitscotland.com/HHA2017 or join the conversation at #HHA2017