Wed 4 Nov 20
Blog from Marina DiDuca, Inclusive Tourism Manager at VisitScotland
The tourism and events industry is undergoing one of the most challenging years in our lifetimes, following the devastating impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The jobs and economic prosperity that tourism brings are at risk but we are also being deprived of many of the rewarding experiences which are beneficial to health and well-being.
It is vital holidays, recreation and leisure are accessible to everyone if our industry is to recover fully and society to be more socially sustainable for future generations.
Despite the huge disruption to our industry, our ambition remains for Scotland to be a world-leading responsible tourism destination. Getting involved in Purple Tuesday today (3 November) is one way our industry can send a reassuring message to disabled customers and reconnect in a way that has not been done before.
Working with Purple, the charity set up to change the customer experience for disabled people, thousands of businesses up and down the UK will be taking part in Purple Tuesday today.
Scotland has been really supportive of the campaign and we are really keen the tourism and events sector is well represented. Getting involved is easy, just visit purpletuesday.org.uk to register and access lots of great resources and show your support.
Being part of such a powerful movement will hopefully bring positivity during extremely difficult times now and support us all during the recovery period.
During the initial phase of the pandemic we monitored the impact on disabled people and carers. Working with important charities like Euan’s Guide, Tourism For All and VOCAL – Voice of Carers Across Lothian, we asked disabled people and carers groups about how lockdown and new restrictions had impacted on them.
Disabled people and carers told us they share many of the concerns about hygiene and social distancing we all do. However, underlying health conditions make these concerns more pronounced. They wanted to know how tourism operators, venues and attractions were reducing the risks of COVID-19 and how the new measures in place would impact on accessibility and operational procedures.
Addressing some of their concerns are relatively straight forward. All businesses would have to do is take some simple, no cost steps that would have a big impact.
Getting hold of information in advance that is easy to access is a major requirement for when disabled people and carers are considering visiting an attraction or venue.
Creating an accessibility guide and making the link available on the front page of your website is easy to do and once it’s on your home page, it can be updated and amended like any other section of the site. Within the accessibility guide, include hygiene and social distancing measures and keep these updated.
People do understand if these restrictions have impacted on your existing facilities like reduced disabled parking but try and make alternative arrangements like a drop off area.
We all enjoy the conveniences that technology brings so being able to book online in advance will not only benefit disabled people, but your staff will be better prepared to welcome these customers.
It’s worth giving staff time to access the range of free training materials online to help them better understand the requirements of disabled people. Often a smile and being helpful and understanding is all they need to do.
We have linked to some great resources within our inclusive toolkit.
When looking for examples of good practice to follow, there are many amongst Scotland’s most popular visitor attractions. Euan’s Guide is also great source of customer feedback. It is easier than you think to create some great inclusive content for audiences - Orkney’s Story-Telling Festival was online and featured a story told in sign language by Sarah Wilkins, at the Ring of Brodgar.
Some other great examples of attractions providing accessible services, the Falkirk Wheel is using Neatebox’s Welcome Ap to offer a personalised welcome service for disabled people. The V&A Dundee worked with virtualinclusion.com to produce a virtual tour of the attraction to assist disabled people to plan their visit.
A message to tourism businesses from CEO of Purple Tuesday Mike Adams OBE on why it makes good business sense to be more accessible.
Our inclusive toolkit has everything you need to know to make your accommodation or venue more accessible.