In this day and age, it would be criminal to deny people with limited mobility access to popular travel and vacation destinations. However, accessibility remains a major issue for many tourist destinations. Even though some tourist areas are adapting their facilities, the pace is slower than desired. Australia distinguishes itself from other travel destinations by actively providing an enabling environment for visitors with limited mobility.
Australia Stands Out From Other Tourist Destinations
In 2018 it was reported that Australian Accessibility tourism was estimated at $10 billion, and it’s all because its major attraction like Sydney is a wheelchair-friendly travel destination. Since then, many hotels and resorts in Australia have adjusted their facilities to make them accessible to everyone.
Disabled travellers have long been on the receiving end in terms of accessible facilities and information, as well as negative public attitudes. Many tourism service providers have ignored this minority group, limiting their travel means and accommodation choices.
Many find it not feasible to provide accessibility for the disabled market, terming it as economically unviable. Others are entirely motivated by the need to build a brand image but still think it’s expensive, hence providing low standards.
However, the case is rapidly changing all over the globe. Countries like the UK and Australia are at the forefront of the transformation. For instance, the UK has even implemented laws to enforce the equal treatment of this group. On the other hand, Australia has begun shaping its market, foreseeing significant growth.
How Significant is Australia’s need for Accessible Tourism?
The limited mobility group consists of about 14% of Australia’s adult population. About 20% of Australia’s population consists of disabled individuals, their facilitators and people with long-term health conditions, especially the old. The number of individuals in their golden age is unanimously increasing in developed nations such as the UK. By 2050, Australia expects a quarter of its population to comprise older adults, which means a higher need for an accessible economy.
Here are some of the best tips for visiting Australia in a wheelchair today;
The airlines have also joined the movement on realising how lacking their services are to this group. For instance, flight crews cannot assist with washroom visits or putting on oxygen masks. Therefore, disabled individuals who need such services must carry along assistants.
Virgin Australia has implemented a Disability Assistant Concession fare, which cuts 50% off the base fare for travellers required to carry an assistant as per the airline’s Independent Travel Criteria. The Independent Travel Criteria is the airline’s mechanism of assessing whether travellers need to travel assistants or not. The 2018 Disability Assistant Concession fare applies to all fare types, including business class, but is exclusive of GST and direct taxes.
Accessible Travel Facilities
Australian accommodation providers are at the frontline of improving accessibility. Across Australia, there are highly accessible facilities, nearly in every popular tourism destination. For instance, Crowne Plazas, Australia’s largest chain of casino hotels are distributed across the continent and provide accessible accommodation features such as parking, lifts, and washrooms. For Instance, Melbourne’s Casino Crowne Plaza advises disabled guests to notify the management of any special features they might need before visiting the building. Yet, the building initially provides a wide array of accessible features such as TTY and assistive listening devices.
Crowne Plaza (Melbourne) has van-accessible self-parking spaces, six wheelchair parking spaces, and entrance point parking drop-offs. Many of its public areas, including public toilets, doorways, registration desks, and fitness and business centre, are also accessible by wheelchair. The building also features ADA-compliant accessible lifts on each floor, near accessible rooms. Other features include accessible door locks, bathtub seats, handheld shower, bathroom controls & safety bars in the shower.
Accessible Recreational Activities
There are also numerous activities that you can indulge in during your vacation as a wheelchair user. For instance, you can learn how to scuba dive at Dive Unlimited in Perth. The institution provides disabled individuals with equal training and certifications to non-disabled counterparts.
You can also surf anywhere around Australia and Newzealand, with the help of The Disabled Surfers Association of Australia(DSAA). The organization is committed to providing disabled people with fun and safe surfing experiences across different types of abilities and ages.
The Parability Paragliding Australia organization helps people with disabilities experience paragliding in Port Macquarie, Newcastle and New South Wales. You can also opt for indoor skydiving at iFLY Downunder, a fully controlled and safe environment. You don’t have to pay a penny for your assistant’s entrance.
Even as efforts to provide accessible facilities intensify, there is still a dire need to provide accessible information. Disabled individuals have repeatedly proven to be as productive as the non-disabled group without much being done to enable them. However, their growing presence in sports and public services has significantly fueled their social acceptance. But for the group to feel fully accounted for, states need to enact laws that protect them against irresponsible public reactions.