NEW TOURISM MARKET
Group sets out to lure travellers with disabilities to the South West
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.