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5 Ways Tourism Businesses Can Prioritise Accessibility

Dr Yasmine Gray, founder of GetAboutAble, shares her best tips for tourism operators ahead of The Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Conference (27 August).

Travel is an incredible way to experience the world and everything it has to offer. However, for people with disability, travelling can often be a daunting and challenging experience. It is important for the tourism industry to prioritise accessibility so that everyone can enjoy the wonders of travel.

In Australia, one in 5 people live with a disability, and people travelling with accessibility needs represent over $13.5 billion annual revenue for the Australian visitor economy (National Visitor Survey 2021, Tourism Research Australia), highlighting the need for the industry to better understand and service visitors with accessibility needs and their companions.

A man and a woman, who is using a wheelchair with a freewheel attachment, moving along a flat barrier-free path in a green space in Adelaide, South Australia
Credit: Tourism Australia

What can the tourism industry do to make travel more accessible? Here are a few tips to start where you are on your accessible and inclusive journey:

1. Staff training

It is important for tourism businesses to train their staff to ensure they are aware of the needs of people with disabilities. This includes providing education on different accessibility requirements, how to best communicate with people, and how to provide assistance when needed.

2. Accessibility isn’t just physical

While businesses should ensure that their facilities are physically accessible to people with disabilities, including providing wheelchair ramps, accessible bathrooms, elevators and tactile paving, there are also many smaller inclusive changes you can make to become more accessible. Having a quiet hour to cater to those with sensory needs, amenities for assistance dogs, large print menus, hearing loops, quiet rooms and more. The easiest change is to showcase a welcoming attitude towards people of all abilities.

3. Communication is key

Information (or lack of!) is the number one barrier to accessibility. Having information about accessibility on your website and social media is a good place to start as that is where most customers have first contact with your business.

Additionally, providing accessible communication is crucial for people with disabilities, including choices of contact (ie. email, phone number), options for braille or large print materials, audio descriptions, and closed captioning when showcasing video content.

4. Design for everybody

Tourism operators can offer activities and experiences that are inclusive and accessible to everyone. This includes offering accessible tours, providing assistive devices, and making sure that all activities are designed with accessibility in mind, and co-designed with people with disabilities where possible.

5. Network and collaborate

The tourism industry can work with disability organisations to ensure that the needs of people with disabilities are being met. This includes collaborating on inclusion initiatives and seeking feedback from people with disability on how to improve accessibility.

Interior view of a conference presentation with a crowd of people seated at tables looking to a presenter on stage with large screens on either side of him
AITCAP 2024 is a unique opportunity to network and collaborate with professionals who can help your business prioritise accessibility.

Mark Your Calendar: AITCAP 2024

The Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Conference (AITCAP) is the annual conference designed for tourism business owners and managers, policy makers, and industry professionals wanting to learn more on creating and developing accessible and inclusive experiences. This year, AITCAP is being held at the Melbourne Exhibition and Conference Centre on 27 August 2024. Book your ticket.

Hear from keynote speakers, industry leaders and tourism operators on a diverse range of themes, including:

  • Melbourne Accessibility Showcase
  • Co-Designing Accessible and Inclusive Experiences
  • Accessible Tourism Insights by Expedia
  • Inclusive Marketing
  • Inclusive Employment
  • Pathway to Accessibility
  • Accessibility Innovations
  • All Questions Answered – hear from a panel of travellers with lived experience
  • Accessible and Inclusive Tourism: A Global Perspective

See the full line-up of industry speakers here.

AITCAP 2024 promotional flyer (left) with an image of a city above text that reads "Join industry leaders as they dive into access and inclusion for your organisation. AITCAP 2024 Melbourne/Naarm". On the right is a portrait of Dr Yasmine Gray

The Accessible & Inclusive Tourism Conference is hosted by GetAboutAble, the disability inclusion consultancy committed to supporting travel and leisure businesses to improve their access and inclusion.

Dr Yasmine Gray, GetAboutAble’s Founder and AITCAP creator, says: “The accessible and inclusive tourism market is both far bigger and easier to attract than many imagine. With the industry looking at ways to attract new income streams into the future, I urge everybody to consider the simple fact that 20% of people have some form of disability.”

“The Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Conference was first introduced in 2021 to address the needs of people with disability to participate in tourism activities, and to empower tourism operators with the knowledge and skills on making their businesses more accessible and inclusive now and into the future. This year, it will continue to be a first-class event providing knowledge, resources and networks to the tourism industry to improve their accessibility and capitalise on this valuable market.”

AITCAP Event Details

Where: Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
When: Tuesday 27th August 2024
8:00AM-9:00AM Registration, networking, and breakfast canapes
9:00AM-5:30PM Conference
5:30PM-6:30PM Networking

Book your tickets online via Humanitix. Virtual tickets are also available to attend online. A limited number of discounted tickets are available, supported by the Australian Government through its ‘Choose Tourism’ program.

This story is presented in partnership with GetAboutAble, host of AITCAP 2024.

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