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UK Tourist Board criticised for Accessibility

wheelchiar user in a field
wheelchiar user in a field Image credit: http://www.homeaway.co.uk

Mark Harper, minister of disabled people, is settling into his new role by pushing tourist attractions across the UK to improve their accessibility.

A recent survey carried out by Vitalise found 25% of the venues they assessed didn’t have suitable parking spaces for blue badge holders and adequate access to the main entrances. 63% were not fully accessible for wheelchair users and out of the 27 venues which the charity covered that charge entry fees only 66% offered a discount for disabled visitors.

Only 13% provided staff with disability awareness training and 81% did not have a hoist for those who require the facility. A further 26% provided no information for disabled guests on their official websites.

Harper said: "Everyone needs and deserves to enjoy a summer holiday - and people with disabilities are no exception.

"I'm calling on everyone in the British tourist industry to look at what more they can do to better cater for disabled travellers.

"Businesses are missing a trick by not doing more to tap into this market. There are 11 million people with a disability in Britain.

"Britain is also visited by 32 million people from abroad every year. So, as part of our long-term economic plan, improving the accessibility of hotels and self-catering apartments and tourist attractions for disabled travellers is a no-brainer."

One of Britain’s most popular tourist attractions, Blackpool Pleasure Beach turned away a teenager with cerebral palsy being told ‘If you can’t walk unaided you can’t go on a ride’.

entrance to blackpool pleasure beach

Chris Simmonds is Vitalise’s chief executive. He said the services for disabled guests has to improve "But, just as importantly, these venues need to work just as hard on how they communicate essential accessibility information to people with disabilities.

"Our own research shows two-thirds of disabled people decide against visiting attractions because of a lack of clear information about how accessible it is."

Managing director of the Disabled Holiday Director, Paul Nadine compared the level of access the UK provides to other countries by saying, "It's often easier to arrange a holiday for someone abroad than it is here in Britain. Many will want to go abroad, but for those with more serious disabilities or who prefer to enjoy what Britain has to offer, it's become more and more difficult."

Nadine also revealed his firm is unable to find suitable holidays in the UK for 20% of its clients because of the low level of accessibility the country has to offer.