Publicado por: Ricardo Shimosakai | 30/12/2014

Tourist attractions ‘still failing’ disabled travellers

Sophie Morgan - ‘The last few years have illustrated just how much we want access to sport and adventure. We don’t want to just wander around museums’Sophie Morgan: ‘The last few years have illustrated just how much we want access to sport and adventure. We don’t want to just wander around museums’

As Britain’s most accessible attractions are recognised, one wheelchair user suggests there’s still plenty of room for improvement

Britain’s hotels and tourist attractions have been urged to do more to cater for the country’s 11 million disabled travellers.

Sophie Morgan, who was left paralysed following a car accident in 2003 and now works with VisitBritain to promote truly accessible UK attractions, many of which were identified this week, suggested that businesses are still failing to grasp the value of what is a £2 billion-a-year market.

“Don’t do it from a moral viewpoint – do it because it makes good business sense,” said the 29-year-old from London. “There are 11 million people in Britain with some form of disability – it’s a demographic that’s been overlooked for far too long. We also tend to travel in groups and will generally stay in accommodation longer – a dream for hoteliers.”

She added that, while the attitude of British people has “improved dramatically”, disabled travellers still face all sorts of problems. Research by the Department for Work and Pensions earlier this year suggested that two-thirds of Britain’s top attractions are not fully accessible to wheelchair users.

“Of course Britain has a lot of heritage buildings which make providing access difficult, but that shouldn’t be a barrier to change – it’s a challenge to overcome.”

In other instances, problems could be fixed by simply adding a few photographs to a website.

“Often we spend hours researching a trip, just because companies fail to provide the correct information, including pictures, on their websites,” she said. “Attractions might actually be accessible, but they are not publicising that fact. Other times it’s the opposite – I’ve turned up at places which claim to have a disabled loo only to find it is downstairs.”

Other changes she would like to see include greater consistency among rail operators and airlines when dealing with disabled passengers, and the establishment of a nationwide online portal to provide reliable, detailed information on accessible attractions.

Clearly, dozens of places are already recognising the financial benefits of attracting disabled travellers. This week Britain’s 20 “most accessible tourist attractions” were named in a joint effort by tourist boards in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Several well-known institutions, including the Science Museum in London and the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh were recognised, while the inclusion of the Chill Factorᵉ ski centre in Manchester and Celtic Quest, a coasteering firm in Pembrokeshire, may surprise some. Considering the exploits of disabled Britons during the 2012 Paralympics, and more recently with The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the Invictus Games – organised by Prince Harry – perhaps it shouldn’t.

“That image of disabled people stuck at home is hopelessly outdated,” said Morgan. “The last few years have illustrated just how much we want access to sport and adventure. We don’t want to just wander around museums – we’re capable of anything and we shouldn’t be stopped.”

Source: Telegraph

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