Tourism getting inclusive
This province’s tourism industry is aiming to get a little more inclusive as this year’s season rapidly approaches.
In front of 60 members of the tourism industry at the picturesque Doctor’s House Inn & Spa in Green’s Harbour, Tourism Quality Assurance NL manager Nancy McGrath presented one of the organization’s newest endeavor on May 25.
Access Advisor is a program that “works to change how businesses and organizations see, approach and understand accessibility in everyday situations.”
It can include restaurants, a festival or event and anything else in the division.
“Anyone can take part in this program and take steps to make themselves more accessible,” said McGrath.
With the tag line “Everyone is Welcome,” it seeks to ensure businesses across the province are equipped to handle any accessibility issues they may come across during the season.
Access Advisor follows Canada Select and Camping Select as quality branches under the Tourism Quality Assurance NL umbrella.
“We should all take more steps to become accessible,” said McGrath.
The presentation was a part of an event hosted by Legendary Coasts of Eastern NL and the CBDC Trinity Conception, which also featured an address from Minister of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development Christopher Mitchelmore.
Inn owners, museum curators, art gallery enthusiasts and those involved in other tourism ventures from the TriPen area listened as McGrath spoke for some 20 minutes on the inner workings of the program that was launched in early March. Here’s how it works. Interested businesses contact Tourism Quality Assurance NL and receive an inspection by an agent with the agency. A report will be issued on the accessibility of the business and where improvements can be made.
Once the visit is complete, the business can then apply for designations for three levels of accessibility. Those are hearing accessible and sight accessible, as well as partial or full accessibility.
Those designations will then be attached to operators in a database.
“The program is built around inclusion and the idea that everyone is welcome regardless of their abilities,” said McGrath. “The goal of the program is really to get away from the idea that accessibility is based solely on someone being in a wheelchair. We want to make sure a person’s products or service is available to as many people as possible.”
Meanwhile, Mitchelmore was the keynote speaker at the event. He delivered an address on province’s tourism plan moving forward.
The minister touched on attracting more of the United States market — which he said account for just nine per cent of NL’s tourism marketplace — as well as promoting local markets and aspects of the industry.
“We recognize that an investment in tourism is an investment in Newfoundland and Labrador and its people to continue economic growth,” said Mitchelmore. “People are excited for this tourist season.”
Elizabeth Pilgrim is the new general manager at the Cupids Legacy Centre. She left the luncheon with a good impression on the vision moving forward for tourism in the province.
“I think it’s great for the province to have such an initiative because there may a lot of tourists who may not come out to some of the rural areas because they feel they may not be accessible,” she said of the Access Advisor program. “I thought what the minster said was very encouraging. In the past couple of months since the budget came out, people are discouraged, but I think our government is putting such an emphasis on tourism.
“We do have a lot to offer and the rest of the world is starting to see that.”