Tourism for All’s Carrie-Ann Fleming guest blogs on work of her organisation and the value of accessible tourism.
As a wheelchair user, I love travel, and working for Tourism for All UK (TFA) is my dream job.
TFA is an independent charity supporting leisure and tourism opportunities for all, operating an information service to older and disabled people – which is my main responsibility – and working with the industry and government to raise the standards of welcome to all guests. We perform an important function in keeping accessibility high on the agenda of both industry and policy-makers.
I welcome the emphasis on tourism by the government, which will provide a boost to tourist destinations across Britain.
TFA chairs the DCMS Accessible Tourism Stakeholders Forum which brings together representatives of the different tourism sectors with disability organisations and policymakers, and has been working in particular to ensure that the country is ready to welcome the world in 2012, including disabled people and paralympians. I have been pleased to see that one of the outcomes of the Forum was the production of the booklet At Your Service (PDF 2.2mb) which really emphasises the size of the disabled market, as I, among 12 million others, like to be treated as customers whose money is as good as anyone else’s. I have been pleased to see that there has been good take up of this booklet.
Spreading the message
I was one of the TFA team who manned a stand at the Best of Britain & Ireland Travel Trade Forum 2011, at Birmingham NEC on 16 & 17 March. We had a very successful event, meeting lots of new trade contacts and catching up with existing partners. We spent time explaining the value of accessible tourism to business, and found the At Your Service booklet very useful in demonstrating how businesses can improve their accessibility relatively easily.
On 8 June I will be travelling down from where I work in Kendal, Cumbria, this time to London for a Tourism for All conference. Hosted by BT at BT Centre near St Paul’s, it will be on the subject of A Market to Win, with an impressive line up of speakers who will inform people about the business edge that accessibility can give. for more info visit our website, and our Facebook and Twitter pages.
One of the ways businesses can market their accessibility is through the new OpenBritain platform, an initiative by TFA – in association with BT – which will make the UK’s accessibility information available online, on an open location centric platform. This will save disabled people like me hours of time searching the web to find what I need, as it will find me by my location. On the 17 of March 2011 a sign-language flash mob sprang up in the House of Commons to mark the launch of the new initiative. Take a look at our YouTube Channel to see this original take on a flash mob in a usually off limits place, getting in the swing and celebrating the launch of the new platform initiative in style!
As a disabled traveller, I welcome this new initiative and look forward to an easier way of finding accessibility information!