Making Scottish Tourism More InclusiveGillian Black
VisitScotland has announced the completion of an inclusive tourism project with AccessAble to deliver 100 accessibility guides for accommodation providers and attractions across Scotland, on Purple Tuesday (7 November).
It comes as the national tourism organisation celebrates its third year as a founding partner with Purple Tuesday, the global social movement which seeks to improve accessibility for disabled people.
The 100 new ‘Detailed Access Guides’ are for tourism businesses located across Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh & Lothians, Fife, Dundee and Angus, and South of Scotland.
AccessAble qualified access surveyors assessed the businesses to help create the guides which are listed on the AccessAble website and mobile app – used by over 5 million people each year – and on the business’ listing on visitscotland.com.
The project was funded by VisitScotland, with additional financial support from Angus and East Lothian councils to engage with further businesses in those areas.
Inclusive tourism is an incredibly valuable market for Scotland. It covers a wide range of people, from those with hearing loss, mental or visual impairments, and wheelchair users, to senior travellers and families with young children.
Disabled people tend to travel in larger groups and stay longer, while the average senior traveller spends 35% more on leisure and hospitality than other age group.
The latest statistics from the Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS) show that in the 12 months from July 2022 to June 2023, UK visitors with an impairment took 2.9 million overnight trips to Scotland, spending £730 million.
AccessAble is an organisation which provides essential detailed accessibility information for venues across the UK and Ireland and hosts more than 70,000 Detailed Access Guides for hotels, attractions and restaurants on its website.
A Detailed Access Guide lets users know what access will be like when they visit a venue, from the route getting in, to what is available inside.
The creation of the guides coincides with the launch of a new inclusive tourism toolkit on VisitScotland’s industry website, visitscotland.org, with advice and information for businesses.
Marina Di Duca, VisitScotland’s Inclusive Tourism Manager, said: “Scotland is a naturally welcoming destination, which we’re incredibly proud of, and we must ensure the visitor experience matches that world famous welcome.
“We were delighted to work in partnership with AccessAble on this project. Providing clear and easy to access product information, in the form of an accessibility guide, is the simplest but most effective way our industry can engage with disabled customers.
“Inclusive tourism is a hugely valuable market and a key part of VisitScotland’s responsible tourism strategy. Tourism offers so many rewarding experiences which we want to be accessible to everyone.”
Carrie-Ann Lightley, leading disabled travel blogger and AccessAble’s Head of Marketing, said: “We were delighted to work in partnership with VisitScotland to create Detailed Access Guides to tourism venues across Scotland. The AccessAble website and App will enhance the experience for everyone, giving people access to crucial detail on the go.
“We hope that other organisations will look to follow VisitScotland’s example and partner with us in our mission to enable disabled people to have greater freedom in exploring visitor destinations.”
Councillor Mark McDonald, Communities Convenor at Angus Council, said: “We want Angus to be a place for everyone to enjoy. We were delighted to provide additional funds for this project to ensure that we could improve the tourism experience for those visiting Angus as we build upon maximising inclusion and reducing inequalities across the region.”
Elaine Carmichael, Economic Development Team Manager at East Lothian Council, said: “East Lothian strives to offer a warm and authentic welcome to all visitors, and we were keen to ensure that our area was well represented in this valuable piece of work. We therefore provided funding to ensure that we were able to include additional East Lothian locations on this project.
“The Detailed Access Guides will enable visitors to East Lothian to make informed choices and help ensure that they have the best experiences when visiting. The information will be available on our destination website www.visiteastlothian.org adding to the site as an invaluable resource for the area.”