Tourism & accessibility- don’t forget the toilets!
Written by Kelvin Grimes Published: 10 July 2019
The Government’s new tourism deal (*) sets ambitious targets to enhance accessibility. It wants to make the UK the most accessible destination in Europe by 2025, increase inbound visitors with a disability by more than 30%, and encourage British residents with a disability to take more domestic trips. Parties with a disabled person currently spend £14billion a year on tourism and travel.
That means a corresponding increase in facilities: 130,000 hotel rooms will be built in the next five years. Investment will be made in attractions.
However, anyone involved in the decisions over accessible tourism- don’t forget the toilets!
It seems an odd thing to most people to interject. However, research shows that 85% of families with a disabled child had left a venue early because of poor toilet facilities. It also found that 99% would be more likely to visit a venue if it improved its toilet facilities. Disabled people make conscious decisions about where they go on the basis of their ability to find- and use- suitable toilets.
We go to the toilet on average eight times a day. Next time you go out, with family or friends, take a moment to think about the impact if you can’t find a suitable WC. Next time you stay in a hotel, think about how you would cope if you couldn’t stand or walk unaided: how would you get to the bathroom?
To pick up on the Government figures re new hotel bedrooms. How many will be accessible? Under British Standards, 5% of bedrooms with en-suites should be wheelchair accessible; 1% should include a tracked hoist.
The perception is that wheelchair-accessible toilets (and bathrooms, en-suites) suit all disabled people. Not so. Many need extra help, from either people (their carers), or equipment, or both. That applies whether they are staying in a hotel, or just visiting an attraction.
And some of the “disabled” elements deliver inclusion beyond accessibility. Wash & dry toilets are a case in point. If you don’t know what they are, they deliver what they say: they wash & dry you. No need for toilet paper. In Japan, they are the ‘norm’. In Islamic culture, they address fundamental tenets about hand: body contact. So they broaden a venue’s appeal way beyond disabled visitors. They can help make us a destination the world wants to visit.
If it seems a big of an effort, just use expert providers, who can survey, supply, install, commissions, and service/maintain…
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