Media Release

22 September 2016

World Tourism Day – Promoting Universal Accessibility

Destination Melbourne, the city’s independent tourism organisation, joins the United Nations World Tourism Organisation in celebrating universal accessibility on World Tourism Day, Tuesday 27 September, 2016.

This year’s World Tourism Day theme is ‘Tourism for All’, celebrating and promoting accessible tourism for the one in five global citizens living with some form of disability.

“In our role as Melbourne’s visitor champion,” said Destination Melbourne Chief Executive, Laura Cavallo, “we advocate for Greater Melbourne’s visitor experiences to be inclusive to all.”

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, 15% of the world’s population now lives with a disability and as the visitor demographic structure changes due to the rising ageing population, visitor businesses across Melbourne and Australia will need to be open to providing compelling experiences for people with accessible tourism needs.

Destination Melbourne via its Visitability program encourages Melbourne’s visitor industry to recognise that people with a disability have the same aspirations and desires to experience different destinations, cultures and sights as everyone else. 

Ninety percent of people with a disability take a holiday each year and tend to travel in groups of three or four people. If businesses don’t provide accessible options, they will miss out on key economic and social opportunities to grow their business.

While Destination Melbourne acknowledges that there is a growing number of visitor businesses who recognise the importance of this market, there is still a lot more that Greater Melbourne’s visitor industry could collectively achieve.

Kiff Saunders, Director at Global Ballooning, after a severe personal motorbike accident realised that his visitor experience was limiting for people with access needs. Kiff invested $120,000 into developing an accessible basket, which was not driven by profit but to ensure his business provided inclusive experiences to all. “The most important aspect of establishing the Easy Access Basket was to ensure that our company catered to people who have mobility issues,” he said.

“Making the decision to invest in a balloon basket that can carry disabled passengers speaks to our values, not necessarily our profit margin. We are advocates for ‘tourism for all’, so the fact that we can now offer a small solution which assists less agile people to share in the beauty of a hot air balloon flight is a very rewarding outcome.”

Museum Victoria is another leader in providing accessible tourism. Acknowledging that almost 230,000 Australians have Autism, the cultural institution has created social scripts and sensory maps for these visitors. More than 1000 social scripts have been downloaded in the past year alone across Melbourne Museum, Immigration Museum and Scienceworks.

Other Melbourne leaders working to provide accessible tourism activities include Melbourne and Olympic Parks, Eureka Skydeck, Melbourne Zoo, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Hobsons Bay City Council and Parks Victoria.

More on World Tourism Day via the United Nations' World Tourism Day website.