Published on : Wednesday, September 21, 2016
As Team GB’s Paralympic athletes return from Rio with a record haul of gold medals, the importance of accessible tourism will today come under the spotlight in Edinburgh.Representatives of more than 20 tourism organisations from around Europe will gather in Scotland’s capital to raise the level of accessible tourism expertise across the continent.
Jointly organised by the European Network for Accessible Tourism , VisitScotland and VisitFlanders, the ‘Aiming for Inclusive Growth’ forum is designed to share best practice.
Bringing together the most experienced countries and regions in the field of accessible tourism, the event will give participants the chance to present their policies and achievements, as well as share ideas on how to raise their game in the years ahead.
Items on the agenda will include discussion on an overall strategy for accessible tourism development, industry engagement and customer engagement.Last year, Scotland’s accessible tourism market was estimated to be worth more than £1.3 billion. To capitalise on this market and make it easier for visitors to identify businesses which can cater for their access requirements, VisitScotland and VisitEngland have been developing a new website which will not only help businesses create their own Accessibility Guide but also allow visitors to search and locate suitable venues for their holiday.
Guest speakers at the two-day event in the Apex Grassmarket Hotel include Chris McCoy, Equality and Diversity Manager at VisitScotland, Kiki MacDonald, founder of the accessible review website Euan’s Guide, and Charlotte Vella, Accessibility Officer at VisitParis.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, who will provide the opening address, said: “Accessible tourism provides an equal opportunity for disabled people, older people, families with young children and those with temporary or hidden disabilities to be part of the tourism experience. Accessible tourism means families can visit somewhere together, with no-one having to be left out. In Scotland we are committed to making this vision a reality by ensuring a fair, inclusive and equal society, enabling everyone to have the same opportunities.
“The latest 2015 accessible tourism figures confirm the economic importance of the accessible tourism market to Scotland, with an estimated £1.3 billion spent on trips. The Scottish Government has invested £38,000 to support the accessible and inclusive market specifically by delivering three projects to boost the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.”