Tourism get­ting in­clu­sive

The Compass - - NEWS - BY NICHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.”

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