Disability friendly holidays

An EASCO news briefing:  EASCO discusses accessibility for disabled tourists…

In August a public attack on the industry was launched by Mark Harper, minister for disabled people, who claimed that British tourism businesses are ‘missing a trick’ due to poor accessibility of tourist accommodation for disabled guests. 

The comments were treated as headline news by BBC Radio 4 and were reported in several national newspapers and the BBC website. The Minister was reported by The Guardian as saying Everyone needs and deserves to enjoy a summer holiday – and people with disabilities are no exception. I’m calling on everyone in the British tourist industry to look at what more they can do to better cater for disabled travellers.

Origin of the publicity and the Minister’s public statements was a press release by the charity Vitalise. Vitalise does good work in providing respite care for disabled people. Alongside this, comments were made by the Disability Holiday Directory, Britain’s biggest disabled holiday company, which says it is unable to accommodate 20% of clients looking
to have a holiday in the UK because of a shortage of accessible accommodation.

On closer examination, however, the findings of the survey have not been written up into a report or published and are therefore not open to any kind of scrutiny. The survey that created the headlines was carried out by contacting members of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, which represents a relatively small number of large attractions.

Only 52 attractions actually contributed to the survey out of around 100 ALVA members and of course the actual number of attractions in England is many thousands. Accommodation was not surveyed.

The charity has launched a campaign that they call Access Now to demand improved access at tourist accommodation and attractions. The Chief Executive of Vitalise says we’re calling on people with disabilities up and down the country to take your cameras, smartphones and tablets with you – photograph and film your experiences and share them with us; get on Facebook or Twitter and leave your pics and comments; visit our website and tell us your stories.

Whilst the publicity was perhaps a short-term storm in a teacup, self-caterers may want to take a fresh look at how friendly they are to disabled people and what can be done to make them welcome. Often, small, low-cost improvements can make a difference.

EASCO Contact Information:
Chief Exec: Martin Sach
Email: ce@englishselfcatering.co.uk
Tel: 020 7078 7329