NEW TOURISM MARKET

Group sets out to lure trav­ellers with dis­abil­i­ties to the South West

South Western Times - - Front Page - Emily Ace

The South West could be­come the “des­ti­na­tion of choice” for tourists with dis­abil­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to Edith Cowan Univer­sity South West PhD can­di­date Adam John­son, as he en­cour­ages the com­mu­nity to join to­gether to tap into the $8 bil­lion market.

The ECU CBD Learn­ing Hub at Maker + Co will host a com­mu­nity chal­lenge on Mon­day for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, car­ers and in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives to come up with creative ways to at­tract tourists with dis­abil­i­ties and en­sure their re­turn.

Mr John­son said vis­i­tors with dis­abil­i­ties made up the “fastest growing sec­tor of the tourism in­dus­try” and the re­gion was wellplaced to cap­i­talise on this market.

“Some of the prob­lems the South West faces right now are a lack of read­ily avail­able in­for­ma­tion about ac­ces­si­ble at­trac­tions and ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions and the bar­ri­ers peo­ple en­counter along their jour­ney,” Mr John­son said.

“On the other hand, we have some great ex­am­ples of ac­ces­si­ble tourism in our re­gion that we can pro­mote and build on ... but there is much more work to be done to make the South West re­gion more wel­com­ing and in­clu­sive.

“It is about how can we go be­yond com­pli­ance and re­ally think about how we can cre­ate a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence for peo­ple of all abil­i­ties when they visit our re­gion.”

Aus­tralia’s South West chief ex­ec­u­tive Ca­trin All­sop said peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties made up a “sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion” of vis­i­ta­tion to the South West and were valu­able to the growth of the in­dus­try.

“It’s for this rea­son that we con­tinue to sup­port the cre­ation and main­te­nance of fully ac­ces­si­ble tourism at­trac­tions through­out our di­verse re­gion, and en­cour­age busi­nesses in tourism to en­sure their prod­ucts and ser­vices are suit­able and safe for all vis­i­tors,” she said.

“Ed­u­ca­tion plays a big part in this, and we be­lieve events like the ECU Ac­ces­si­ble Tourism in the South West event are fan­tas­tic ways to keep ac­ces­si­bil­ity and in­clu­siv­ity at the fore­front of tourism providers’ minds.”

En­able WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Rob Holmes com­mended the univer­sity on the ini­tia­tive.

“Es­pe­cially as we have an age­ing pop­u­la­tion, it might make it more ac­ces­si­ble for that group as well,” Mr Holmes said.

“I cer­tainly en­cour­age peo­ple to go along to it and will be en­cour­ag­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion from our staff and our clients.”

Reg­is­ter for the event at ac­ces­si­ble­tourism­chal­lengesw.eventbrite.com.au.

There ap­pears to be a re­newed fo­cus on tourism in the re­gion with Edith Cowan Univer­sity South West eye­ing an $8 bil­lion market and the re­lease of a Geographe Wine map.

The lat­est idea to make the South West at­trac­tive to tourists with dis­abil­i­ties is an­other move in the right di­rec­tion.

The South West is well placed to draw this market as a des­ti­na­tion with plenty to see and do and be­ing close to Perth.

While changes may need to be made to have our re­gion dis­abil­ity ready, th­ese changes will not only ben­e­fit the tourists and the econ­omy but also lo­cal peo­ple and the com­mu­ni­ties in gen­eral.

Those changes are al­ready well un­der way and vis­i­tors need to only see the new-look Koom­bana Bay as proof.

On Mon­day the bay will host a beach party to cel­e­brate In­ter­na­tional Day of Peo­ple with Dis­abil­ity.

The choice of lo­ca­tion is no ac­ci­dent with up­grades see­ing an im­pres­sive fo­cus on ac­ces­si­bil­ity, in­clud­ing beach mat­ting and wheel­chairs and a Chang­ing Places fa­cil­ity.

Bun­bury City Coun­cil should be com­mended as it ap­pears to con­tinue hav­ing one eye on ac­ces­si­bil­ity with new de­vel­op­ments and in­fra­struc­ture up­grades across the city.

Also in this edi­tion we re­port of the Geographe Wine re­gion map which will go out to a cap­tive Perth au­di­ence at a big event this week­end.

The Geographe Wine re­gion is com­ing along in leaps and bounds and is un­doubt­edly a closer al­ter­na­tive to wine tourists who may be ven­tur­ing fur­ther down the coast.

Ev­ery bit we can do to make our re­gion more at­trac­tive to more peo­ple will make the South West bet­ter also for those who live here. I would like to ex­press my sad­ness at the Bun­bury City Coun­cil and the new signs at Hastie Street stat­ing a beach that has been used for dogs to en­joy of­fleash runs and swims has now been changed to on-leash.

Ab­so­lutely no warn­ing to reg­is­tered dog own­ers at all and typ­i­cal of Bun­bury to not con­sult with dog walk­ers about this. Th­ese signs need to go.

I have walked this beach for 30 years along with quite a few oth­ers and it is very quiet the times we walk. Hardly any­one the odd jog­ger, nud­ist or swim­mer. We have shared this beach with­out in­ci­dent. An­other step back­wards Bun­bury. On be­half of ev­ery dog who loves this beach, please re­verse the signs.

I noted re­cently in the South Western Times that Capel Shire Coun­cil was invit­ing the pub­lic to give in­put via a sur­vey on where dogs were to be al­lowed off-leash on their beaches. This is in stark con­trast to the Bun­bury City Coun­cil ar­bi­trar­ily, sud­denly and with­out pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion chang­ing Min­da­long Beach south of the carpark into a dog on-leash only beach.

This par­tic­u­lar stretch of beach has been used over the last few years mainly by dog own­ers giv­ing their dogs a good run off-leash or to swim.

There are other less fre­quent users such as jog­gers, fish­er­men and the oc­ca­sional nud­ist and we get along fine. The dogs found on this beach are in­vari­ably well be­haved, non-ag­gres­there; sive and hav­ing fun to­gether with their own­ers. It is un­der­stand­able that dogs are best kept away from beaches heav­ily fre­quented by peo­ple but this is clearly not a well thought out de­ci­sion and hope­fully will be re­voked sooner rather than later.

In­ex­pli­ca­bly there is cur­rently no in­for­ma­tion about this sud­den de­ci­sion on the coun­cil web­site, nor in­for­ma­tion on cur­rently avail­able of­fleash ar­eas.

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