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Inclusive Tourism: What it means, and why it’s important to all Tourism Brands

By Paige Rowett
Published on December 28, 2016

Inclusive Tourism is a major market sector with an estimated 4.3 million people living in Australia with a form of disability, that’s nearly 1 in 5 Australians. According to Travability, 88% of people with a disability in Australia take a holiday each year. The total tourism expenditure attributable to the group is $8bn per year as part of overall tourism expenditure. That’s one hell of an opportunity for tourism destinations and operators!

I recently met the lovely Clair and Scott Crowley who own and manage Push Adventures. Together they wish to enhance travel experiences for people with physical disabilities, and are passionate about strengthening the tourism industry to be inclusive for everyone. Apart from educating the industry on inclusive Tourism where they can, they also undertake Inclusive Tourism reviews, disability friendly customer service training and also road test product and offer constructive feedback for improvement.

I learnt a great deal from Clair and Scott during our short chat, and one thing that resonated was that:

Inclusive Tourism is so much more than the physical support we can offer people with disabilities on holidays – rather, the biggest hurdle is offering inclusive emotional support to those with disabilities.

I felt so enlightened by their mission, that I asked them if they would like to pop together some more qualified information on Inclusive Tourism for our readers, so that we can continue the conversation about Inclusive Tourism. They kindly put together the below detail on Inclusive Tourism, including some easy actions that tourism businesses can implement straight away!

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Introduction to Inclusive Tourism

Inclusive tourism opens up a whole new world, literally.  Through embracing the entire community of travellers, regardless of ability, tourism operators have the opportunity to appeal to a wider range of tourists.

Have you ever turned up to a café with a pram to find you won’t fit through the door?  Have you ever looked online to find out whether a venue is wheelchair accessible, only to find there isn’t any information? What about a day trip with the extended family only to find there are too many stairs and grandma won’t be able to participate? Inclusive Tourism is about reducing uncertainty around what to expect from a destination or service. It’s about creating an environment where all people feel welcome and included. It creates choice and instils confidence in all people, empowering them to sign up for new experiences.

So who benefits when tourism is inclusive?

The ageing population, people who use wheelchairs, children, people with temporary mobility limitations, people with prams, people with hearing or vision impairments, people who speak English as a second language and their traveling companions – just about everyone.

For business owners it is an opportunity to set yourself apart. How can you cater for a wider range of guests? Take into consideration the entire travelling experience, from the planning phase through to review of your operation. Think about a travellers experience at every stage.  Put yourself in a variety of customer’s shoes and pay attention to the details… small things can make a huge difference.

How to make your product more Inclusive

Update your website and metadata with information around your accessibility

For example, you could update your meta data with content such as: ‘We are wheelchair accessible, have an accessible bathroom and two accessible carparks’, or ‘We are accessible with assistance as some areas of our facility are only accessible by gravel paths’.

Provide alternative methods for customers to contact or book your service

Consider appointing an Access Expert within your operation to take phone, text and email enquiries and look at offering online or downloadable booking documents. Giving choice allows your customer to pick which option suits their abilities.

Consider the wider community and whether you are excluding a particular cultural or minority group and invite them into your business.

Ask people how you could improve your offering to suit their needs and abilities better… customers are your best asset.

Put people first at every opportunity

Inclusive tourism is not about offering special or separate assistance, it is about putting people first and recognising that all people are unique in their abilities. Being inclusive doesn’t require you to be an expert in disabilities. Just give every one of your customers a friendly welcome and ask them if there is anything you can do to help make their experience enjoyable! Their requests could vary from calling a taxi to filling out a form. People are the best at determining their own abilities, you don’t need to guess how to be of assistance, just ask!

Inclusive tourism is a lucrative market. By taking steps to be more inclusive you’re appealing to a wider range of tourists with differing abilities. A welcoming smile and an inclusive attitude can only positively influence an experience.  This has to start with taking a look at your own attitude towards inclusion, remembering that not all barriers are of the physical kind. Your attitude can be the difference between being physically accessible, to being inclusive to all.

Nowhere is expected to be 100% inclusive for everyone, but we can help you to identify and promote ways in which your business caters for a range of people and provides an ‘’inclusive’’ tourism experience. We can recommend cost effective and easy to implement solutions, along with a long term strategy that will assist you along your journey to becoming more inclusive.

How Push Adventures can help you become more inclusive

Thanks to the support of the South Australian (SA) community, The Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Association of SA and the Department of Families and Social Inclusion, Push Adventures have received funding to enhance 30 SA tourism experiences by July 2017.

We work with the South Australian tourism industry to assist you to welcome the 3.5 million Australians with a disability and/ or the 4 million Australians aged over 65 years. We have a limited opportunity to work with those who want to be seen as leaders in this space. Learn more about what we do on our website >

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What are you currently doing to make your product Inclusive?

I’m sure there are many businesses out there already practicing Inclusive Tourism, and if you happen to be one of them, we’d love you to share your ideas in the comment section below, so that we can all learn from each other, to become a more inclusive industry!

Paige Rowett

Paige is a tourism marketing specialist and co-director of Tourism eSchool. Paige is passionate about working with tourism destinations & operators to create sustainable marketing strategies, specialising in marketing strategy, customer advocacy, customer experience, content marketing, website strategy, search engine optimisation & blogging.
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