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Tourism is getting easier for seniors and people with physical and sensory needs

Follow these tips to enjoy day trips and leisure breaks with fewer access worries.

Don’t let age or worries about accessibility deter you from taking leisure breaks. Many tourist destinations, attractions and accommodation providers are used to dealing with seniors and people with accessibility needs.

VisitEngland figures show that 9.8 million overnight trips were taken by Britons with an impairment in England alone in 2013 and 271 million day trips included a party member with an impairment. Domestic overnight trips by disabled travellers and their companions increased by 19 per cent in the four years to 2013 and over-55s took 14 million domestic holidays in England in 2013 – 26 per cent more than in 2006.

“The key to planning a successful trip for people with physical and sensory needs is information, and we are encouraging tourism businesses to improve their accessibility information,’ says Ross Calladine, who is responsible for accessible tourism as Head of Business Support at VisitEngland.

When choosing a destination, consider the seven areas of England where selected businesses such as hotels, B&Bs, attractions and food and drink outlets are taking part in the Access for All project, aiming to increase accessibility.

These destinations currently cover Brighton, Margate, Nottinghamshire, Northumberland, Derbyshire, and the cities of Lincoln and Birmingham. Areas which have already been involved are Newcastle/Gateshead, Bath, and Leicestershire.

All are home to businesses which have committed to increasing accessibility.

Wherever your destination, however, look for businesses with Access Statements on their websites. They offer details about the venue’s accessibility, such as seating at reception, hearing loops, large print menus, or ways to get to different areas of the building. ‘In some cases venues have used new technology such as virtual tours on screens and tablets to provide interpretation of less accessible areas,’ says Calladine.

Look for accommodation which displays the yellow logo of the National Accessible Scheme, which includes over 400 businesses with improved accessibility.  Consult the Access for All Award Winners Brochure to find a list of tourist attractions and accommodation that have won the award for going the extra mile to ensure accessibility.  

For help with planning trips see the VisitEngland and Tourism for All websites. Many local tourist board websites also allow you to search for businesses with accessibility information.

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