To coincide with the opening of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, VisitEngland has launched “Winning More Visitors” – a new online guide designed to help destinations attract more visitors with access needs by providing access information on their websites.
£2 billion annual spend
Visitors with access needs, and their companions, spend over £2billion a year in England, and Ross Calladine, VisitEngland’s Skills, Welcome & Accessibility Manager pointed out:
“Visitors who have a health condition or impairment – and their travelling companions – spend over £2bn each year in England, and our research shows that many of those visitors will choose where to spend that money based on the access information available on destination websites. We have produced Winning More Visitors to help destinations improve their welcome and attract even more of these loyal and valuable visitors.”
The online resource was developed following a survey by the national tourist board, which revealed that 83% of people looking for access information to plan a trip use destination websites – but only one in three (39%) find it easy to locate the information they need.
Guidance influences choice of venue
The research also showed that three-quarters (74%) of people with access needs say they would be a lot more likely to choose a destination that offered the best guidance.
Winning More Visitors contains advice and examples of best practice to help destinations build an Access Information section for their site, and ensure it is as accurate and up-to date as possible. It also highlights the type of information visitors with access needs may require when planning their trip:
- Travel Planning – such as a journey planner, details of local public transport, information on accessible parking in the area.
- Local geography and terrain – information on the geography and accessibility of key tourist areas – e.g, a link to the Beach Access Statement.
- Accessibility of tourism businesses – access statements included as part of each venue’s listing, links to local accommodation and attractions that have self-assessed accessibility information.
- Assistance during the stay – details of local hospitals and pharmacies, and any greeter schemes and tours running in the area that can cater for people with access needs.
- Other useful information – location of accessible public toilets and links to other accessibility portals such as VisitEngland and Tourism for All.
The guidance also advises destinations on how to display the access information on their sites, such as creating a dedicated ‘Access for All’ section that is clearly signposted from the homepage as well as other pages throughout the site. Other suggestions include making sure the whole website itself complies with international web accessibility guidelines.
Winning More Visitors is part of VisitEngland’s new online portal for Destination Managers, which contains a range of tools, resources and good practice that VisitEngland is collating to help those involved in tourism development at a local level across the country.