Image: Example of a Changing Places facility installed by Closomat.
Minister for Disabled People, Sarah Newton, and Tourism Minister, Michael Ellis, have urged all leisure attractions to ensure they are catering for disabled customers’ needs by making investments, including in mobility equipment.
Tourism in the UK is now worth over £66bn a year to the economy and ministers say that that facilities must be accessible to all visitors if companies want to make the most of the sector’s spend.
Ministers argue that with one in five people in the UK living with a disability or health condition, there is a business case for ensuring that disabled people’s needs are catered to.
On a visit to Sandcastle Water Park in Blackpool, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, Sarah Newton, said: “Many leisure businesses are already doing the right things in making sure their facilities are enjoyed by disabled people.
“Things like designated opening times, a quiet room, open-ended day tickets and ramps can make all the difference.
“I’m calling on others in the tourism industry to follow their lead and put visitors’ needs at the heart of their services.
Meanwhile, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, Michael Ellis, said: “All over the country, our tourism industry is booming and we are a world-leading holiday destination for visitors from both at home and abroad.
“However if we are to maintain this reputation and its economic and social benefits, I urge all tourism venues to follow in the footsteps of these award winners and review whether they are doing enough to cater for disabled people, to ensure they are accessible to everyone.
Venues that were recognised by VisitEngland’s Inclusive Tourism Award have made adaptations such as wheelchair accessibility, Changing Places toilets and providing accommodation for guide dogs.
The Head of Business Support at VisitEngland, Ross Calladine, said: “Our Inclusive Tourism Award winners demonstrate that providing easy access for all makes sound business sense.
“By taking steps to ensure staff are disability confident, making reasonable adjustments to facilities and providing information on venue accessibility, other businesses can benefit from this valuable market.”
There are more than 11m disabled people in the UK with a combined spending power of their households, ‘the purple pound’, standing at around £250bn.