Reply To: UK's new National Disability Strategy and Tourism

  • Chris G Veitch

    July 29, 2021 at 6:30 pm

    Hello, I am not privvy to much of the detailed plans as yet, however I do know the following are likely to happen as a result of this Strategy. It references the aim set out by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in their recently published ‘Tourism Recovery Plan’

    Within the document are some key aims:

    – Tourism has a significant role to play in delivering the government’s wider Global Britain, levelling-up and economic growth agendas. The UK government is determined to do what it can to help the sector recover swiftly from COVID-19 and to build back better from the pandemic with a greener, more accessible, more resilient, more productive and more innovative tourism industry.

    – The Tourism Sector Deal set out an ambition for the UK to become the most accessible tourism destination in Europe by 2025. The UK government remains committed to this target. An inclusive and accessible tourism offer that meets customer needs is good for both businesses and consumers. Before COVID-19, half a million British adults cited ‘lack of accessibility provision’ as the reason they did not take a domestic trip in the previous 12 months. More generally the government is committed to improving the lives of disabled people, and will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People this year. The strategy will take into account the impacts of the pandemic on disabled people and will focus on the issues that disabled people say affect them the most in all aspects and phases of life.

    – Ensure the tourism sector contributes to the enhancement and conservation of the country’s cultural, natural and historic heritage, minimises damage to the environment and is inclusive and accessible to all.

    – VisitBritain and VisitEngland continually strive to adapt their business to ensure it is as inclusive as possible. For example:

    – VisitBritain and VisitEngland recently partnered with Channel 4 to create the Mission: Accessible series as part of the Escape the Everyday campaign.101

    – VisitEngland provides direction and support to businesses and destinations on harnessing the valuable and growing accessible tourism market with a dedicated section of guidance and resources on their Business Advice Hub.102

    – VisitEngland also convenes England’s Inclusive Tourism Action Group, comprising a range of leading accessible tourism stakeholders, and runs a National Accessible Scheme which rates tourist accommodation based on their suitability for guests with accessibility requirements.

    – However, the government believes that more needs to be done to understand the barriers holding back participation in tourism. Without a detailed understanding of the baseline position, it is not possible to establish the most appropriate government interventions. As such:

    – The Minister for Tourism will hold a series of roundtables with stakeholders from across the tourism industry to better understand the barriers holding back participation in tourism. These roundtables will be themed around issues such as guest accommodation, transportation, attractions, working with customers and skills. The aim is to establish a clear baseline of where the UK is in terms of inclusive tourism, and to come up with a series of concrete actions that the government can pursue to make a meaningful difference, above and beyond existing activity.

    – Later this year, the government’s intention is to recruit a new disability and access ambassador for tourism. The selected individual will promote best practice, help identify ongoing barriers and contribute to strategic thinking around how to improve accessibility in the sector.

    It is proposed that VisitEngland will manage a project based in North Yorkshire to support specific business through training of managers and staff, improved information provision and identifications of useful low cost facilities that can be introduced to improve accessibility. This is with a view to creating a Marketing campaign that is aimed at overseas markets, which will be identified. to test the selling of the destination as accessible to a targeted audience, which will include disabled and older people. This pilot echoes a similar venture undertaken between 2014- 2016, details of which can be found here

    Some key outcomes from this were:

    – Total incremental spend generated by advertising campaign was £32.7million against target of £12m.

    Learnt a lot. All businesses reported that they had learned something about catering to the needs and requirements of the accessible tourism market (72% said they had learnt a lot).

    – Prepared. Almost all business said they now felt prepared when it comes to catering to guests with accessibility needs (98% provided a rating of 4 or 5 out of 5).

    – Recommend. All but one business said they would recommend participation in a future Access for All project to other businesses (one business said they didn’t know as they weren’t lead contact for the entire project).

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