A Merimbula local is calling for the Bega Valley to put a new emphasis on accessible tourism.
Ron Finneran represented the Bega Valley Shire at a forum on Accessible Tourism in NSW - sponsored by the NSW Family and Community Services – at Parliament House in Sydney on Wednesday, May 11.
As Chairman on Council’s Access and Advisory Committee, Mr Finneran attended the forum as a way to learn about how other council’s are approaching accessible tourism and how the Bega Valley can improve.
“For too long we have concentrated on the disability aspect when the focus should be on tourism,” Mr Finneran said. “If something is wheelchair accessible than it is also easier for the elderly and for mothers in prams.”
The main points addressed at the forum included, provision and access to inclusive tourist information, marketing and advertising; access to physical infrastructure (parking, toilets, accommodation) and access to transport (cruise ships, roads and buses).
Mr Finneran said making the shire more accessible would open up a whole new market of people wanting to visit and stay in the area.
Accessible Tourism involves collaborative processes between stakeholders to enable people with access requirements, including mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive dimensions of access to function independently and with equity and dignity through the delivery of universally designed products and services.
“I was really surprised to see where our council measures up compared to other councils in the state. It’s pretty good down here but there is much more than needs to be done,” he said. “Council needs to work with local businesses to make sure all our shops and restaurants are wheelchair friendly but we also need to work on marketing and promoting accessible tourism.”
He said it’s important for local tourist attractions to advertise and specify on websites that they are accessible.
“When people in a wheelchair plan a holiday they research everything first, so we need to make sure all the necessary information is there for all to see.”
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