Worcestershire’s central tourism organisation has announced a new business support programme, aiming to improve accessibility for all visitors and educate the tourism business community on best practice to improve visitor experience.
Working with nationally recognised Access and Inclusion UK, Visit Worcestershire are looking to support 20 businesses across the county with bespoke individual support and guidance.
After the completion of the programme, tourism professionals will be declared “Accessibility Champions” with the role of promoting and implementing accessible practices within their own businesses.
The importance of access for all is crucial in today’s environment, particularly when it comes to the tourism and hospitality sector. Visit Britain’s latest data indicates accessible tourism, or The Purple Pound as it is referred to, is worth £15.3 billion pounds in England alone. Supported by Visit England’s ambition to be the most accessible destination in Europe by 2025.
Councillor Marc Bayliss, Cabinet Member for Economy, Infrastructure and Skills at Worcestershire County Council, said: “Improving the Worcestershire Welcome for visitors is an important part of our role towards making Worcestershire an inclusive destination for all. Our commitment to this business support offer aligns with Visit England’s vision to become one of the most accessible destinations to visit. The new accessibility support adds to the growing list of specific tourism business programmes provided by Worcestershire County Council and Visit Worcestershire.”
The existing business support on offer from Visit Worcestershire includes free consultancy which has helped individual businesses develop business plans, improve marketing strategies and up-skill management teams. Also new for this year, is a free support programme to develop new experiential tourism products which align with the upcoming Destination Management Plan launch and to enhance Worcestershire’s offering to national and international visitors.
Jane Cooper, Managing Director of Access & Inclusion, said: "We are delighted to be working on this ground-breaking project with Visit Worcestershire as one of England's new Local Visitor Economy Partnerships (LVEPs). For the past year Access & Inclusion UK have been creating a new Accessible and Inclusive Tourism toolkit for LVEPS for VisitEngland. Through this project, Visit Worcestershire will be piloting this toolkit and leading the way with a new approach to destination development.
Central to the project will be supporting businesses to understand the barriers which are often faced by people with accessibility requirements and highlighting the often simple, solutions to help overcome them. Our aim is to 'demystify' inclusive tourism and provide the destination and its businesses with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to provide a warm Worcestershire welcome to each and every visitor, benefitting local communities too."
Businesses will need to complete an expression of interest form to be considered for the programme. Upon full completion a grant of £1000 will be made available for businesses to implement accessibility improvements after a detailed audit from experts Access and Inclusion UK.
For further information and details on how to apply, head to https://visitworcestershire.org/trade/accessibility-support-programme/