Assisted Holidays Making Travel Accessible to Everyone
There is no denying Australians love to travel but finding assisted holidays that offer barrier free travel for people with disabilities can be tricky. With the tourism industry embracing universal design ideas that centre on providing travel options for the whole community regardless of ability, there is an increasing range of tours, accommodation and transport suppliers now offering tourism experiences suited to everyone. Assisted holiday providers like us aim to reduce the barriers even further, ensuring travellers can also access the necessary personal supports to make travelling even easier.
As part of keeping in touch with the main stream travel and tourism industry we thought this might be a good time to chat about assisted holidays, what accessible tourism is, what the barriers are and how destinations can improve. We have also selected our top 3 assisted holidays in Australian to get you dreaming about your next adventure.
At Discovery Holidays we understand that many travellers can feel some anxiety before choosing to go on holiday – particularly if it’s a destination that is new to them. Fortunately, we are seeing more and more destinations upgrading their attractions to improve the quality of service and facilities they offer, removing travel barriers. At Discovery Holidays we are always on the lookout for new or upgraded destinations for our travelling enthusiasts.
What is Accessible Tourism or Assisted Holidays?
Assisted holidays or accessible tourism is about universal design that enhances access for travellers with mobility impairments, wheelchairs or other special needs which may include intellectual disability, vision impairment, temporary disability, plus many others. People living with disability currently represent as much as 11% of travel expenditure and as our population size increases more and more people will have accessibility needs. Accessible travellers represent a diverse population with an assorted range of interests, hobbies and goals. It is and should be an ongoing endeavour to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of physical limitations, disability or age.
What are the barriers to travel and tourism for persons with disabilities?
For people living with disability or low mobility, travelling can be a challenge and finding the right information on assisted holidays and services can often prove difficult. Tasks like checking luggage on a plane, planning your holiday inclusions or booking a room that meets your accessibility needs can be expensive and time consuming to arrange.
Challenges for accessible travellers can include the lack of:
• Trained professional staff capable of informing and advising about accessibility needs
• Suitable booking services and related websites that meet traveller’s unique needs
• Accessible airports, transfer facilities and services
• Adapted and accessible hotel rooms, restaurants, shops, toilets and public places
• Accessible streets and transport services
• Reliable information on accessible facilities, services, equipment rentals and tourist attraction
Above all, successful accessible holidays or tours require a large amount of effective communication, partnership and cooperation across all related providers and destinations and this is something that Discovery Holidays has perfected over their 6 years of service. Planning to visit even a single destination can be overwhelming to a newcomer needing reliable accessibility information on everything from transport (flights, coaches, cruises and transfers), accommodation, entertainment, insurance, shopping and dining.
Who benefits from improved accessibility?
With over 120 travellers departing with Discovery Holidays per year, we understand that it is the small things that make the difference. Furthermore, with our extensive itinerary research, planning and experienced holiday support guides we know how to avoid the pitfalls experienced by travellers with a disability. Our team understand that even the smallest of changes can have a huge impact on the outcome of a holiday.
Did you know?
• Almost one in five Australians has a disability – that’s over four million people!
• People with disability account for 11 per cent of total tourism bookings in Australia
• 88% of people with disability take a holiday every year accounting for some 8.2 million overnight trips
For this reason and with such a great need for quality accessible travel, we could not resist telling you about our top 3 assisted holiday recommendations.
Our top 3 assisted holidays in Australia
Now this was a hard choice, however we wanted to share our current top 3 Australian destinations for accessible travel. To make the list the team chose based on the following three main criteria:
• Accessible by design;
• Offer iconic quality tourism experiences; and
• Responsive, flexible and inclusive customer services.
DESTINATION #1 – PARADE PHILLIP ISLAND, VICTORIA
For those who really want to get out and experience nature at its best, you really can’t go past Victoria’s amazing Phillip Island. Only 2 hours from Melbourne this amazing island hosts a range magical wildlife experiences including the Koala Conservation Sanctuary, Antarctic Journey exhibition and the iconic Penguin Parade. For travellers with mobility impairments these activities are universally designed to be accessible for everyone.
Visitors should not miss the amazing Penguin Parade. Enjoy these wonderful animals as they make their way from the sea to their nesting boxes every night at sunset. Get a bird’s-eye view of the little penguins in the Underground viewing area as they waddle along their most popular pathway, all at eye-level. The VIP Skybox is also an option and its wheelchair accessible too. This VIP experience lets you behind the scenes where you will be assisting the ranger with his daily count from the warm comfort of the observation hut. Phillip Island Nature Parks have made inclusive experiences and accessibility a priority.
LEARN MORE – Magic Melbourne and Phillip Island
DESTINATION #2 – ALBANY THE RAINBOW COAST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
It’s hard not to fall in love with WA’s amazing Rainbow Coast, it’s truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. From the pristine beaches you can see migrating whales pass by King George sound, visit the historic whaling station, marvel at the rugged coastline and immerse yourself in the history at the National Anzac Centre.
The award winning National Anzac Centre is one of Australia’s most important cultural pilgrimages. This centre has embraced new technologies and universal design to ensure access for all visitors. Sight impaired guests will be thrilled by the interactive audio tours. Here you can follow personal stories through multimedia exhibits and historic artefacts and the venue is wheelchair accessible.
Prepare to remember, learn and explore.
LEARN MORE – Albany the Rainbow Coast
DESTINATION #3 – CRUISES
Cruiseship companies are great at offering accessible holidays that cater for cruisers travelling with disabilities. Two of the cruise companies that offer amazing accessible holidays are the Australian-based P&O Cruise ships and Princess Cruises ships. Their ships include wheelchair accessible cabins, TTY devices for hearing-impaired travellers, cabin directories in Braille, limited mobility tours and exceptional customer service. Above all, crew representatives make every effort to accommodate travellers and guests with disabilities or impairments.
LEARN MORE – Cruising with Discovery Holidays
Finally, Discovery Holidays has been operating for over 6 years and we have the tools to better manage your accessible travel experiences. If you would like to enquire about our upcoming departures click here to get in touch.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (2009), National Visitor Survey (2003) as analysed by Darcy and Dwyer (2008) and Accessible Tourism – it’s your business “Accessibility Resource Kit”.