New push for tourism

Emily AceSouth Western Times

The South West could become the “destination of choice” for tourists with disabilities, according to Edith Cowan University South West PhD candidate Adam Johnson, as he encourages the community to join together to tap into the $8 billion market.

The ECU CBD Learning Hub at Maker + Co will host a community challenge on Monday for people with disabilities, carers and industry representatives to come up with creative ways to attract tourists with disabilities and ensure their return.

Mr Johnson said visitors with disabilities made up the “fastest growing sector of the tourism industry” and the region was well-placed to capitalise on this market.

“Some of the problems the South West faces right now are a lack of readily available information about accessible attractions and accommodation options and the barriers people encounter along their journey,” Mr Johnson said.

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“Such as customer service awareness of disability, existence of inclusive and accessible attractions, facilities and accommodation options.

“On the other hand, we have some great examples of accessible tourism in our region that we can promote and build on ... but there is much more work to be done to make the South West region more welcoming and inclusive.”

He said accessibility should not only be considered in terms of compliance.

“It is about how can we go beyond compliance and really think about how we can create a fantastic experience for people of all abilities when they visit our region,” Mr Johnson said.

“We have a lot of interest in this space. Bunbury wants to become the most accessible regional city in Australia, so a big part of that is what people’s experiences are when they arrive in Bunbury.”

Australia’s South West chief executive Catrin Allsop said people with disabilities made up a “significant proportion” of visitation to the South West and were valuable to the growth of the industry.

“It’s for this reason that we continue to support the creation and maintenance of fully accessible tourism attractions throughout our diverse region, and encourage businesses in tourism to ensure their products and services are suitable and safe for all visitors,” she said.

“Education plays a big part in this, and we believe events like the ECU Accessible Tourism in the South West event are fantastic ways to keep accessibility and inclusivity at the forefront of tourism providers’ minds.”

Enable WA chief executive Rob Holmes commended the university on the initiative.

“Especially as we have an ageing population, it might make it more accessible for that group as well,” Mr Holmes said.

“I certainly encourage people to go along to it and will be encouraging representation from our staff and our clients.”

Register for the event at accessibletourismchallengesw.eventbrite.com.au.

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