Local councils are being encouraged to improve access to beaches and other tourist locations across the UK in a bid to increase the enjoyment of disabled visitors and boost business.
Esther McVey, the government’s minister for disabled people, has called on local government to work with grassroots organisations to make the “small change” that can make “a big difference”, and stressed the advantages to lcoal communities of making areas like beaches and the countryside more accessible.
Often a small change can make a big difference to disability access. Esther McVey
She said: “As well as the importance of equal access, it makes good business sense to ensure – as the tourist season reaches its peak – local areas of beauty and interest can attract as many people as possible.
“Often a small change can make a big difference to disability access and so we’d encourage councils to continue working in partnership with disabled people and their organisations, as they know what works best in their local areas on the ground.”
Her comments chime with the award-winning No Go Britain campaign from Channel 4 News. The campaign has exposed the difficulties faced by disabled people across the UK over access – from buses and trains to cruise ships and gymnasiums.
A year on from the London 2012 Paralympic games, an event credited with boosting public understanding about disability, Channel 4 News found that though access is improving, it is still “hit and miss”.
There are around 10 million disabled people living in the UK. There are a number of charities that work to improve access in tourist locations, such as Tourism for All, with it’s Open Britain campaign, and Living Options Devon, a charity which hires out all terrain mobility scooters and wheelchair accessible “wheelyboats”.