The bottom line benefits of welcoming everyone
There are many good reasons for businesses to think about accessibility, not least of which is bottom line: research in 2015 put the value of the UK market at £1.3bn, up 55% in just four years.
The potential value of the market is even greater. A recent study by the Business Disability Forum and Disability Rights UK revealed that properly meeting the needs of disabled people could result in expenditure of £1.8 billion a month that is currently lost.
Accessible Tourism is not just a ‘nice to do’. It takes in the practical, often very simple requirements of a broad range of visitors, including those with temporary injuries, older people and parents with young children, just as much as people with different hearing, sight or mobility needs.
Our story so far
Our industry has come a long way on this in last few years. Ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2014, VisitScotland coordinated a Legacy Project in Glasgow to support the development of accessibility among the city’s tourism businesses.
The project was a great success. It saw the roll-out of online training for businesses, plus the production of a suite of tailored itineraries and ‘accessibility guides’ by city venues designed to provide more information for easier decision-making.
One Glasgow business saw a 205% increase in visits to their website in the three months after posting their accessibility guide on their homepage.
The achievements also inspired accessibility initiatives across Scotland, including Fife, the Borders and Edinburgh.
Now we aim to develop that legacy still further with a new focus on the major events of 2018, set to be another milestone year for Glasgow with 8,500 people expected for the first ever sports European Championships in and around the city in August.
The year will also bring three major international medical conferences to Glasgow. The World Federation of Haemophilia Congress 2018 will take place from 20-24 May, followed by the World Down Syndrome Congress from 24-27 July and then the Motor Neurone Disease Association’s 29th International Symposium in December.
Each of these events will bring some delegates who may require understanding and a different approach from us as hosts.
Making a success of 2018 will mean a profitable year for city businesses, and allow us to attract similar large-scale events in the years that follow. That’s why we are broadening the reach of this new accessibility project beyond Glasgow to take in areas including Lanarkshire, Ayrshire & Arran, Stirling and the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.
Where to start?
A range of support and learning resources is available for businesses at visitscotland.org and our partner sites. These include:
- Free online training course on accessibility for managers and frontline staff
- A free online tool to help you build an accessibility guide for your business
- ‘Easy Does It’ – a guide to simple, practical changes you can make
- ‘Inclusive and Accessible Events’ – a guide for event organisers
- ‘Take the lead’ – a guide to welcoming visitors with assistance dogs
- Case studies on businesses who have made a success of accessibility
- Sample accessible itineraries in Glasgow
- Business Accessibility Reviews at euansguide.com