Tourism and leisure sector is at risk of losing business from disabled customers.
Ahead of Disabled Access Day, the charity asks – is everything being done to make the sector accessible?
As the UK’s disabled people and their carers are encouraged to choose new places to visit during Disabled Access Day (12 March), national disability charity Revitalise’s own research has shown that many venues have been falling short when it comes to full accessibility.
A recent survey of the UK’s tourism and leisure sector found that nearly two thirds (64%) of the most visited tourist attractions were not 100% accessible for wheelchair users. Revitalise also found 65% of disabled people had decided against visiting a tourist attraction due to accessibility concerns or a lack of information.
Revitalise is a charity providing respite holidays for disabled people and carers at three UK centres, with accessible excursions to regional visitor attractions as an integral part of the charity’s provision.
But it’s not just tourist attractions that have been falling behind. A separate survey of disabled shoppers found that 8 out of 10 (84%) disabled people and carers had experienced problems with the accessibility of major high street stores, with over half (55%) saying they had been subjected to negative or unwelcoming treatment from shop staff.
As a consequence, Revitalise is warning that many of the UK’s public venues and retail outlets could be missing out on their share of the estimated £212 billion annual spending power of disabled visitors – the so-called ‘Purple Pound’.
On the occasion of Disabled Access Day, Revitalise is renewing its call for more effort on the part of public venues and retailers to become more accessible and make information more easily available, in order to ease the worries of disabled people – or risk losing out.
Revitalise Chief Executive Chris Simmonds said:
“Revitalise welcomes this great initiative to encourage disabled people to visit a new place on Disabled Access Day.
“We routinely take our guests on excursions and shopping trips as an integral part of our holidays, so the accessibility of public venues and high streets is an issue that’s very close to our hearts.
“But our research proved that all too often disabled people are held back by a lack of access. We think this needs to change.
“There’s not just a moral imperative for venues, there’s a financial one too. By not making themselves accessible enough, businesses may be losing out on their share of the huge annual spending power of disabled visitors. In the lead up to Easter and the summer holiday season, can they really afford to do that? Businesses should be more aware of the value of disabled people.
“That’s why Revitalise is urging public venues and retailers to work harder to make themselves more accessible and to make information about accessibility more easily available. Disabled people have the right to expect the same choices and opportunities as everyone else.”