Accessible Travel: Almost half of people with disabilities would travel more if they could be certain of finding suitable facilities. Our Travel for All initiative hopes to bring together the information and voices needed to make sure that they can.
Tune in to our Hangout on Air with Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Manager, Martin Heng, and our panel of experts as they discuss the ways in which the travel industry can and should evolve to better cater for those with special needs. We’ll also touch on the roles new technologies and social media play in empowering disabled communities to travel and share information.
Feel free to post any questions as comments within this event and we’ll try to answer as many as possible towards the end.
Introducing the Accessible Travel panellists:
Brian Seaman is an access auditor, and a specialist in business planning, building regulations and compliance. Brian has spent 20 years as the active adviser for specialist charity Tourism for All UK, auditing businesses and destinations across the UK, Europe and the USA. His company, Access New Business (http://accessnewbusiness.co.uk/), works closely with Visit England, and has recently produced a brochure “Speak Up! – A guide to marketing your accessibility” for them. Brian curates news stories using Scoop It under two banners: accessible travel and accessible tourism.
Carrie-Ann Lightley is the Information Service Manager for Tourism for All UK (https://www.tourismforall.org.uk/), a registered charity dedicated to providing information to people with specific access needs, especially the elderly or disabled. They champion the cause of accessible tourism with policymakers in the UK and Europe and assist the tourism industry to make practical and realistic changes that will improve the accessibility. They operate the website Open Britain (http://www.openbritain.net/), which is a relatively new initiative that aims to provide a large range of accessible information to make finding a holiday or trip easier. The searchable site includes a list of accessible destinations, in addition to individual listings, as well as providing an overview of each region in the UK.
Ivor Ambrose works as an independent consultant providing research and project management expertise to public sector organisations, NGOs and companies in Europe. In 2006 he brought together an international group, including visit Britain, the Hellenic Ministry of Tourism, NGOs from Belgium, Spain and Greece, university and management specialists to create the European Network for Accessible Tourism (http://www.accessibletourism.org/), initially funded by the European Commission, of which he is now managing director. He is the co-chair, together with Andre Vallerand, Special Adviser to the UNWTO Secretary General, of the upcoming global summit on accessible tourism, Destinations for All (http://www.accessibletourism.org/?i=enat.en.events.1325).
Bill Forrester founded Travability in 2007 as a vehicle to publish accessible travel information. The mission statement of his company is simply “making the world accessible to all”. Bill is an acknowledged expert in the accessible travel field, speaking at several high-level accessible tourism conferences, and has become a strong advocate for shifting the paradigm away from accessible travel being a disability rights issue in favour of there being a strong economic argument based on competitive advantage to be derived from the inclusive tourism sector.
Sandra Rhodda is a published author, researcher into and advocate for accessible tourism with many years of experience in the field. She has been the director of Access Tourism NZ (http://www.accesstourismnz.org.nz/) since 2005 and is on the steering committee for the Destinations for All summit. She too is dedicated to effecting change through lobbying local and national government and members of the tourism industry to develop an accessible tourism strategy and sector, again not because it is a disability rights issue, but because it is an economic imperative. Her website is also dedicated to the dissemination of accessible travel information.
Meet Martin Heng, Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Manager