Victorian Accessible Tourism Plan 2007-2010
This document is a draft of the Victorian Accessible Tourism Plan.
Material collected in course of consultations is available in a
separate report Appendix 1, Literature Reviewed and Consultation
Accessible Tourism steering committee
• Paul Albone – Tourism Victoria
• Jacqueline Barsenbach – Tourism Victoria
• Kaaren Smethurst – RuralAccess
• Jane Trengove – Victorian Network on Recreation and Disability
• Vilma Svab – Yooralla
• Beth Johnston – MetroAccess
• Deb Humphris – Action for Community Living
• Jodie Willmer – Tourism Alliance Victoria
• Judith Geraghty - VICNORD
Accessible Tourism reference group
• Tony Clarke – National Information Library Service
• Neil Stenhouse – AAA Tourism
• Vickie Feretopoulos – City of Melbourne
• Andrew Paxton – Parks Victoria
• Grant Roberts – Victorian Council of Deaf People
Front Cover: Nillahcootie Estate - accessible winery & restaurant near Lake Nillahcootie
Table of Contents
Accessible Tourism Plan ........................................1
Accessible Tourism steering committee ................................... 2
Accessible Tourism reference group ........................................ 2
1 Executive summary............................................4
2 Introduction ......................................................6
2.1 Background................................................................. 6
2.2 Purpose ...................................................................... 6
2.3 The industry................................................................... 7
5.1 The market ................................................................. 7
2.5 Process ......................................................................... 7
2.6 Accessible tourism: Core values and principles ................. 8
2.7 Policy context .............................................................. 8
Disability Discrimination Act 1992 - sect 3 .................................. 10
3 Accessible Tourism market research ................ 12
3.1 Total overnight visitors ................................................ 12
3.2 Profile of visitors ......................................................... 12
3.3 Constraints/barriers to travel ........................................ 13
3.4 Travel behaviour ......................................................... 14
3.5 Implications ............................................................... 15
4 Findings by sector............................................ 17
4.1 Background................................................................ 17
4.2 Information ................................................................ 17
4.3 Accommodation .......................................................... 18
4.4 Transport................................................................... 20
4.5 Events and attractions ................................................. 21
4.6 Food and wine ............................................................ 22
5 Summary of key issues ............................................ 24
5.1 Communication........................................................... 24
5.2 Training ..................................................................... 24
5.3 Infrastructure ............................................................. 24
5.4 Support Services......................................................... 24
6 Goals and priorities.......................................... 25
6.1 Goals ..................................... Error! Bookmark not defined.
7 The Action Plan................................................ 26
1 Executive summary
The Victorian Accessible Tourism Plan 2007-2010 sets the strategic
direction for the tourism industry to ensure that it provides tourism
product that caters for all potential customers, including those
customers who have a disability.
People with a disability make up 20 per cent of the population, but
only about 10 per cent of tourists. People with a disability have a
disposable income and are an untapped market and therefore
present an opportunity for the tourism industry. People with a
disability want to join in ‘mainstream’ activities as independently as
possible, so by catering for visitors who have specific access
requirements operators will also gain the business of associated
family and friends with whom they may choose to travel.
Not only does accessible tourism make good business sense, it is
also a legal requirement for all service providers enshrined in
legislation in the form of the Federal Disability Discrimination Act
(1992) and the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act (1984). This makes
it the responsibility of all businesses to provide a service that does
not discriminate against people on the basis of their disability.
This project was initiated by the State Accessible Tourism Reference
Group, which is a chaired by Tourism Victoria and includes members
from both the tourism and disability sectors. The plan has been
developed with funding from the State Disability Plan Innovation
Grants Program, Disability Services (Department of Human
Services) and supported by the Tourism Victoria Industry
The Victorian State Disability Plan 2002-2012 suggests that by 2012
Victoria will be a stronger and more inclusive community – a place
were diversity is embraced and celebrated, where everyone has the
same opportunities to participate in the life of the community, and
all citizens of Victoria have the same responsibilities towards their
This plan is a step towards achieving this outcome in a tourism
context, and to assist people with a disability who face barriers to
travel. Broadly speaking, these barriers fall into three main areas:
• Sourcing accurate information on available accessible tourism
• Gaps in available accessible tourism product and/or inaccurate
data on the level of access offered.
• Levels of knowledge by tourism operators about potential
requirements of people with disabilities.
The plan seeks to address each of these key areas by:
• Raising awareness and understanding of accessible tourism, the
responsibilities of operators, and practical ways to build this into
tourism business plans and practice.
• Identifying and marketing accurately what is accessible
• Looking at all aspects of local tourism product, seeking and
identifying gaps, and developing accessible offerings in all areas
of the tourism experience, including transport, accommodation,
activities, events, food and wine. All tastes should be catered for,
and a seamless accessible tourism experience provided.
• Seeking feedback from customers to continually improve the
level of customer service to all customers including customers
with a disability.
While the development of a fully accessible tourism sector in
Victoria is a long-term ideal, there are many steps that can be
taken towards achieving this outcome. The most important initial
step is to increase the awareness and understanding of those
involved in the tourism industry at both a strategic and a ‘grass
This plan is intended to assist the tourism industry, disability and
government sectors to address issues of accessible opportunities for
visitors with a disability.
The following paragraph is an example of accessible tourism:
A family including a couple and two children are planning their
annual holiday. The family seeks out a holiday experience that
suits all their needs both as a family unit and as individuals. This
includes accommodation that is within their budget; activities that
appeal to all family members; enjoyable, affordable dining options;
and the ability to travel easily to and from as well as around the
destination. In this instance, one family member uses a wheelchair.
For this family of four to have an enjoyable holiday experience and
spend their holiday budget in a particular area, the experiences
they select must also offer wheelchair access. This access must be
available to and within the accommodation venue, and at every
activity in which any members of the family may choose to
participate during their stay – including dining options. Accurate
knowledge about this level of access is required at the early stages
of planning the holiday to enable the family to select an experience
that will be enjoyable as well as possible.
Tourism product such as this is called ‘accessible tourism’. It is
inclusive of every customer’s needs and, rather than being a small
niche market, should be part of every market offering. In Australia
and overseas there are thousands of potential visitors who fall
under the broad term of ‘customers with a disability’. People with a
disability make up 20 per cent of the Australian population and
cross all the demographic groups, niche markets and budgets, from
families to professional couples, and grey nomads to gay and
lesbian visitors. People with a disability have the same broad tastes
as any group in the population and enjoy nature or adventure
activities, fine dining, music, arts and any other tourism
experiences on offer.
The purpose of this project is to develop a range of strategies to
assist the tourism industry by:
• identifying the issues associated with providing tourism
services to people with a disability
• reflecting the views of a range of stakeholders acquired
through a consultation process
• encouraging discussion, offering advice and developing
o education and awareness
2.3 The industry
Victoria’s relatively compact geography makes it possible for visitors
to easily experience a range of accessible product throughout the
Although Victoria has a number of flagship tourist attractions, a
large proportion of Victoria’s tourism industry is made up of micro-
and small businesses that employ fewer than five people2. It makes
good business sense to expand their markets to include visitors with
5.1 The market
Approximately 20 per cent of the Australian population has some
form of a disability, and most travel with friends and family3.
The tourism industry is worth an estimated $10.6 billion to the
Victorian economy and accounts for almost 155,000 jobs4.
Calculations based on an average spend of $68 per night (19985)
put the value of visitors with a disability to the Victorian economy at
$272 million per annum or $1.2 billion across Australia6.
The effect of exclusion, poor service or bad experiences may be
significant. Therefore improving access and inclusion for this sector
of the market makes good economic sense, as well as meeting
As part of this project a wide range of stakeholders were
interviewed by telephone. These included Tourism Victoria staff,
people with disabilities and tourism business operators. Two
workshops were also held – one for disability sector representatives
and the other for tourism stakeholders.
A literature review and analysis of existing plans was also
1 Victoria’s Tourism Industry Strategic Plan 2002-2006
2 Victoria’s Adventure Tourism Action Plan, 2002-2004.
3 Based on the 446.0 Disability, 2004 , ABS, and the National Visitors Survey 2003
4 Victoria’s Tourism Industry Strategic Plan 2002-2006
5Anxiety to Access, Simon Darcy, 1998, Tourism NSW
6The average spend per night for all travellers was $133 per night in 2002. Source: Visitor Reports,
2.6 Accessible tourism: Core values and principles
Accessibility is a concept relevant to more than just infrastructure;
it also relates to attitude, awareness, language, services, and
information. As a result, access is provided to a diverse community
including all societal groups regardless of gender, race, ability or
‘…mainstream products and services that are
accessible to and usable by as many people as
reasonably possible, in a wide variety of
situations and to the greatest extent possible
without the need for special adaptation or
As an industry we can embrace the growing market of people with
different abilities, backgrounds and characteristics, and promote the
concept of accessibility for all.
• Accessibility: a way of encompassing the needs of people with
a broad range of disabilities, including physical, intellectual,
and sensory or communication impairments. Not limited to
• Accessible: conforming at least to all current access codes and
standards cited in them, such as the Building Code of
Australia (BCA) and access standards (eg Standards
• Accessible design: can be embraced in all service provision
and in all premises and settings.
• Assisted access: A person with a disability should not face
discrimination if they need a carer with them in order to
access a service, eg to assist with mobility or personal care.
• Accessible messages: In devising marketing and
communication strategies, accessibility information should be
included in existing brochures, trade shows conferences,
accreditation processes, websites, industry development
forums, and assessment and training processes.
2.7 Policy context
There are a number of legislative acts and regulatory standards in
place to protect people with a disability from discrimination. In
relation to accessible tourism, the cornerstone legislation and
relevant plans are detailed below (see also accompanying Appendix
1, Literature Reviewed and Consultation Findings).
7 Access-Ability- Guidelines for Accessibility Technology, John Gill, 2004
Victoria's Tourism Industry Strategic Plan 2002-2006
The plan outlines key strategic directions for Victoria's tourism
industry for the next 5 years. New directions include:
‘…communicating the value of tourism, accelerating the development
of regional tourism with a focus on key destinations and attractions,
targeting international growth markets such as China and placing a
greater emphasis on visitor satisfaction.'
The strategy will contribute to social cohesion and environmental
Victorian State Disability Plan 2002-2012
Launched by the Victorian Government in 2002, this plan states:
‘The Victorian Government’s vision for the future is that:
By 2012, Victoria will be a stronger and more inclusive community
– a place where diversity is embraced and celebrated, and where
everyone has the same opportunities to participate in the life of the
community, and the same responsibilities towards society as all
other citizens of Victoria.’
Victorian State Disability Plan 2002-2012, 2002 Disability
Services Division, Victorian Government Department of Human
Services, Melbourne, p. 7
Developed with a human rights framework, the vision is
underpinned by four guiding principles and values:
• the principle of equality
• the principle of dignity and self determination (choice)
• the principle of diversity
• the principle of non-discrimination. (DHS p. 9)
Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA)
The Disability Discrimination Act deals with access to employment,
education, premises, goods and services, transport and recreation.
The act focuses on outcomes rather than specifications.
The objects of this act are:
a to eliminate, as far as possible, discrimination
against persons on the ground of disability in the
i work, accommodation, education, access to
ii clubs and sport; and
iii the provision of goods, facilities, services and
iv existing laws; and
v the administration of Commonwealth laws and
b to ensure, as far as practicable, that persons with
disabilities have the same rights to equality before
the law as the rest of the community; and
c to promote recognition and acceptance within the
community of the principle that persons with
disabilities have the same fundamental rights as the
rest of the community.
Disability Discrimination Act 1992 - sect 3
The DDA is not a standard and does not only refer to technical
aspects in the built environment. Management, staff and personnel
are obliged under the act to provide goods and services to people
with a disability without prejudice or assumptions on that person’s
capacity to participate.
The Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 1984
The Victorian Equal Opportunity Act deals with direct or indirect
discrimination against individuals on the basis of their disability in
the following areas:
• the provision of goods and services
• access to clubs
• sporting activities
• government activities.
Building Code of Australia (BCA)
The Building Code of Australia is a uniform set of technical
provisions for the design and construction of buildings and other
structures throughout Australia.
It covers buildings designed for a wide variety of uses and includes
provisions for access and mobility. In addition to provisions included
in the BCA, the BCA references selected Australian standards to
further explain specific requirements. In the area of access and
mobility for people with disabilities, the key referenced standards
are AS1428.1 (2001) and AS1428.2.
It should be noted that compliance with the BCA including these
standards will not necessarily ensure compliance with the DDA.
AS1428.1 is currently under review to bring it more closely into line
with the DDA.
For additional policies and legislation relevant here, refer to
Appendix 1, Literature Reviewed and Consultation Findings.
3 Accessible Tourism market research
Travellers with special access needs is a growing market that is not
being fully explored by the tourism industry. While people with a
disability make up 20 per cent of the Australian population, this
percentage increases in older age groups. Thus, as Australia’s
population is aging and a greater number of older people are
wishing to travel, the accessible tourism market is a growing one.
In NSW in 2001 it was estimated that individuals with a disability in
Australia generated 29.8 million visitor nights, and generated $472
million for the tourism industry. The market is surprisingly large, as
people with a disability match other visitors in dollars spent. The
2003 National Tourism Survey reported the following numbers:
3.1 Total overnight visitors
• 7.4 million (or 10 per cent) of all domestic overnight visitors
to and within Australia had a disability.
• 1.8 million (or 10 per cent) of all domestic overnight visitors
to and within Victoria had a disability.
3.2 Profile of visitors
Of all domestic overnight visitors to Victoria with a disability:
• 44 per cent indicated that they had conditions that included
arthritis, asthma, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or
• 21 per cent had mobility restrictions
• 20 per cent had limited use of their arms, fingers, legs or feet.
Table 1. Visitors with a disability (by long-term health condition)
Disability type/Long term health condition Australia Victoria
Arthritis, asthma, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease,
dementia or other long term condition
Mobility restrictions – requiring use of mobility aids 16% 21%
Other disability or heath related condition 12% 15%
Limited use of arms, fingers, legs or feet 14% 20%
• Domestic overnight visitors with a disability to Victoria were
mostly 45-64 years (44 per cent) and 65+ years (25 per
Table 2. Visitors with a disability by age group (%)
Visitors with a All visitors to
15-24 years 8% 17%
25-44 years 23% 39%
45-64 years 44% 33%
65 years or over 25% 11%
• Domestic overnight visitors to Victoria with a disability tended
to be in the older, non-working (42 per cent), parent (21 per
cent) and single/no children (14 per cent) lifecycle groups.
Table 3. Visitors with a disability by lifecycle stage (%)
Lifecycle Visitors with a All visitors to
Single without children 14% 22%
Couple without children 8% 14%
Parents 21% 34%
Older working 15% 14%
Older non-Working 42% 16%
Implication of trends related to age
The rate of disability increases with age, from 4 per cent for people
aged less than four years to 84 per cent for those aged 85 years
and over. Disability rates are markedly higher for men than for
The proportion of people with a disability in the population is
increasing: from 15 per cent in 1981 to 19 per cent in 1998. Based on
those figures, in 2021 that will equate to approximately 1,018,400
people in Victoria and 589,500 in Melbourne alone.
The National Ageing Statistics Unit (NASU) indicates that by 2051
about 25 per cent of Australians will be 65 years and over compared to
12 per cent in 1997. In other words, the size of this market is
While we know that the proportion of people with a disability increases
significantly with age – and the statistics indicate that the majority of
visitors with a disability are in the older age groups - attractions and
events should not skew their products and services or their design and
development decisions towards this sector alone; a substantial market
exists within the younger population.
8 Australian Bureau of Statistics. Publication 446.0 Disability, Australia 06/05/2004)
3.3 Constraints/barriers to travel
• Of all domestic overnight visitors with a disability, 24 per cent
indicated that they experienced constraints or barriers to travel.
• Of all domestic overnight visitors with disability to and within
Victoria, 27 per cent indicated that their condition was a
constraint or barrier.
• Domestic overnight visitors with a disability to Victoria indicated
that the most common constraints or barriers to their travel and
tourism experiences were:
o lack of accurate details about access (85 per cent)
o general lack of access at tourist destinations (61 per cent)
o lack of accessible public transport (54 per cent)
o seating issues (38 per cent).
The lack of access to accurate information was a constraint for a
much higher proportion of visitors with a disability for Victoria, than
for Australia as whole.
Table 4. Visitors with a disability by Constraints (%)
Constraints/barriers to travel Visitors with a All visitors to
(lack of accurate access details)
Transport or tours
(general lack of access at tourist 61% 27%
Transport or tours
(lack of accessible public transport)
3.4 Travel behaviour
Purpose of visit
There is a slightly lower percentage of visitors with a disability
travelling for business purposes, but a higher proportion travelling
to visit friends and relatives (than for all visitors to Victoria).
Table 5. Visitors with a disability by purpose of visit (%)
Purpose of visit Visitors with a All Visitors to
Holiday or leisure 42% 43%
Visiting friends and relatives 42% 37%
Business 11% 16%
Other 5% 4%
The majority of domestic overnight visitors to Victoria with a
• as part of an adult couple (33 per cent)
• alone (29 per cent)
• with friends or relatives (21 per cent).
Table 6. Visitors with a disability by type of travel party (%)
Travel Party Visitors with a All visitors to
Travelling alone 29% 25%
Adult couple 33% 28%
Family group – parents and children 12% 18%
Friends or relatives 21% 23%
Other 4% 5%
Accommodation (% of nights)
Of all domestic visitor nights in Victoria spent by those with a
• 49 per cent were spent with friends or relatives and
• 18 per cent at a hotel, motel or resort.
Table 7. Visitors with a disability by accommodation type (%)
Accommodation Visitors with a All visitors to
Hotel, resort, motel or motor inn 18% 30%
Caravan park or commercial camping 10% 8%
Friends or relatives property 49% 44%
Other 23% 17%
While there is no significant difference in the proportion of visitors
with a disability and all visitors staying with friends and relatives,
there are significantly fewer numbers of people with a disability
staying in hotels, resorts, motel or motor inns, compared to all
visitors to Victoria. Possible reasons may include fewer options for
assistance, cost, inaccessible premises or perceived difficulties in
accessing information about these premises and what they offer.
This issue may be useful to explore further.
If only 10 per cent of visitors have a disability, and up to 20 per
cent of the population has a disability, many people with a disability
are not travelling. Therefore, it can be assumed that there may also
be opportunities to increase the proportion of people with a
disability travelling to Victoria’s tourism destinations.
If more than 50 per cent of people with a disability who travel are
doing so as a couple or group, care must be taken to ensure they
can do things with other group members, such as being seated at
the same table, in the same row at a venue as their friends,
accommodated in the same room as their partner etc.
Access to information
Information was considered a constraint or barrier for 85 per cent of
visitors to Victoria with a disability. This is significantly higher than
for visitors to Australia as a whole. Accessible information about
accessible tourism experiences should be a priority for the Victorian
tourism industry if it is to compete with other states in this market.
It is likely that the tourism industry has not marketed the products
and services that are currently available, inclusive and accessible as
a competitive advantage.
Questions about disability have not been included in the National
Visitor Survey since 2003. Yet research about those who travel and
barriers they experience is important to continue to assist industry
development, enhance visitor satisfaction and monitor progress.
Please note that the latest domestic visitation data from Tourism
Research Australia is for the year ending June 2004. The latest
available research for accessible tourism, however, is for the year
ending December 2003. More recent visitation data is not available
as related questions were not included in the National Visitor
• National and International Visitor Surveys, 1999-2004
• Domestic Tourism Expenditure in Australia’s regions 2001-2003,
Tourism Research Australia
• International Tourism Expenditure in Australia’s regions 1999,
Tourism Research Australia.
4 Findings by sector
To understand the issues experienced by people with a disability
when travelling as well as the attitude of businesses to accessible
tourism, telephone interviews were conducted with members of
both disability and tourism sectors and two focus groups were held.
Participants were encouraged to share their views and experiences
with regards to accessible tourism, and identify difficulties and
barriers as well as examples of good practices and useful resources.
The resources, survey questions and focus group topics used can be
viewed in Appendix 1, Literature Reviewed and Consultation
Survey questions addressed the following topics:
• events and attractions
• food and wine.
What respondents with a disability said:
• “Finding visitor information when needed it is often difficult for
people with a disability.”
• “There is no central point/organisation for information about
accessible tourism products.”
• “There is a need for information about accessible tourism
product to be available in a variety of locations and alternative
• “Customers wanting information about accessibility are being
constantly referred on (because people in the industry don’t
know where to find it).”
• “It is often hard to get information about accessibility and
when you get it, it often turns out to be inaccurate.”
• “Visitor expectations are commonly built on poor information.”
• “Being able to find an interpreter (for Auslan sign language)
quickly can be difficult for conferences and the like.”
• “Quick and easy identification of appropriate products is
• “The cost of providing a range of information (eg floor plans
for all accommodation) is prohibitive.”
• “Many businesses are not aware of the standards they need to
conform to, or where to go for information.”
Examples of useful information about accessible tourism:
• www.mansfield-mtbuller.com.au – includes descriptive
information on accessible tourism product in the Mansfield
and Mt Buller region
• www.greatoceanroad.com.au – includes information on
accessible tourism product in the Great Ocean Road region
• Accessing Melbourne -
The visitor information guide to Melbourne for people with a
• Mansfield Visitor Information Centre – has information on
accessible tourism product in the Mansfield-Mt Buller region.
Phone: 1800 039 049.
What respondents with a disability said:
• “Access to premises for people with mobility aids is still an
• “It’s hard to get detailed information about access and
whether premises meet specific needs.”
• “Accessible rooms can cost more.”
• “Travelling with carers (usually a home-based service) means
either the need to share or the cost of separate rooms.”
• “Ratings don’t work for access issues - premises are either
accessible or not.”
• “People have trouble getting specific equipment and personal
services or care services at visitor accommodation.”
• “Companion animals are not yet not protected under the
Equal Opportunity Act, so places where companion animals
are accepted need to be advertised and awareness increased.”
What tourism business operators said:
• “It’s important to be open to learn from guests – we are
continuing to retrofit our premises.”
• “It’s costly to retrofit accommodation premises, especially
those that are old or heritage protected.”
• “Providing detailed information about accessibility for every
premises and distributing it, costs money and most tourism
businesses are micro businesses.”
Examples of good practice in accommodation:
“Buttercup Cottage, Merrijig, Victoria. Offers luxury
accommodation in a rural setting at Merrijig near Mansfield.
Established in 1998, the cottage has access for people with
disabilities and attracts guests from all over the country and
overseas to stay and enjoy the beauty of the area.
Having a property that caters for everyone is terrific because the
only reason we say “no” to anyone is because we are booked out –
not because guests may not be able to get into the building because
they just happen to use a wheel chair.
The inclusion of access information on our website recently,
immediately brought results, with the first guest since the data was
loaded (whose mother uses a wheel chair) saying the reason she
chose our property was she could actually see what we offered by
looking at the detail on our website. She commented that she has
often experienced property owners saying their accommodation is
accessible and finding quite the opposite on arrival. She and her
family stayed at our cottage for four nights.” Louise Jacob, Owner,
Helvita Retreat, Sheffield, Tasmania. “This is a host farm with two
identical divided units that are fully accessible. Each has a bathroom
with accessible toilet and shower. The extra large main room sleeps
four people, has a fully equipped kitchen, 12-inch remote control
colour television, wood and electric heaters. The owners can get
hoists and other equipment from the Tasmanian Health Department
free of charge. We would have made it our base for a week making
day trips because of its location if we had realised how affordable
and well it was designed”. Vince Pirrottina, Melbourne.
The Devils Playground, Tasmania – a network of accessible
premises across Tasmania around which people with specific access
requirements can base a trip.
What respondents with a disability said:
• “Can’t get travel insurance for people with an existing disability.”
• “You have to make bookings in advance to use public transport
(eg V-line buses).”
• “Access to ticketing areas is a challenge, with both physical and
print barriers to getting information.”
• “Little public transport and door-to-door transport of any kind in
the regions, especially at non-peak times.”
• “Delayed compliance deadlines for most transport (eg trams,
buses, due to exemptions under the DDA).”
• “The taxi industry is under pressure: in the regions there may be
only one accessible taxi (also used as the maxi-taxi for groups).
Institutions purchase their own accessible community transport,
but there is a high cost of retrofitting vehicles and maintenance.”
• “Lack of accessible fishing boats and ferries (eg Spirit of
Tasmania has no accessible facilities for day passengers).”
• “Airlines don’t recognise the companion card, wheelchairs are
damaged in transit on domestic flights, some airlines don’t offer
a service to people with a disability (Regional Express do it well),
need for disability-friendly evacuation procedures.”
• “Lack of accessible over-snow or four-wheel drive vehicles.”
• “Lack of access to the water at most beaches.”
Examples of accessible transport:
Spirit of Tasmania, Melbourne, Victoria to Devonport, Tasmania
“All the crew on board were very helpful and our meal that
evening at 6.30pm was great. There are three lifts on board;
our cabin on E deck was one of four cabins with disabled
access. It had an accessible toilet and shower, two nurse call
buzzers, two single beds attached to the wall and adjustable
air conditioning.” Vince Pirrottina, Melbourne.
Gordon River Cruise, Strahan, Tasmania.
“The catamaran Wanderer 2 is accessible by electric wheelchair
and if you give prior notice of your needs, they will look after
you. The only drawback is that the toilets aren’t accessible.”
Vince Pirrottina, Melbourne.
4.5 Events and attractions
What respondents with a disability said:
• “Problematic seating configuration: isolated seating away
from family and friends, and problems getting to seats.”
• “Booking and ticketing can be protracted, due to limited
availability of accurate information and untrained staff.”
• “Small rural community groups with limited resources run
wonderful events but struggle to provide access.”
• “The cost of carers sometimes makes a tourism experience
• “We need more accessible nature-based product – and
information about park accessibility.”
• “The companion card needs to be better promoted to service
providers as well as potential cardholders.”
What tourism business operators said:
• “The cost of retrofitting popular flagship venues is probably
• “Operators are not getting a return on investment for specific
equipment used infrequently.”
Examples of accessible events and attractions:
• Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne, Victoria, offers seamless
accessibility as the result of using an access consultant in the
planning stages of the event.
• Companion Card, Victorian Government Department of
Human Services – removing price discrimination for people
with a disability.
• “Smiths Beach Access for All Community Project, Philip
Island, Victoria, was first mooted in early 2001 and completed
in November 2004. The Project consists of a 152-metre long
switchback ramp from the beach car park viewing area onto
the beach. The estimated construction costs of $85,000 were
substantially reduced following generous financial donations
and in-kind support from local and regional businesses and
community members. Tattersalls, David’s Timber
(Melbourne) and the Phillip Island Nature Park made
substantial financial contributions. Holmesglen Institute of
TAFE (Melbourne) third- and fourth-year building apprentices
constructed the ramp.
o The aim of the project was to provide access for all onto
Smiths Beach, including people with physical disabilities,
parents with children in prams, safety/emergency
rescue services and all people challenged by negotiating
steep stairs. It took two years to come to fruition,
however the benefits will last for generations.
o Smiths Beach was chosen because it is considered to be
one of the safest surfing/family beaches on Phillip Island
and its close proximity to wheelchair accessible
accommodation and attractions”.
Bass Coast Shire Council, Victoria RuralAccess Project
Officer, Kathryn Pryor.
4.6 Food and wine
What respondents with a disability said:
• “Many places do not have an accessible entry or it is not the
main entry and there is no sign to indicate an alternative
• “Sometimes the only accessible tables are on the footpath –
this is fine when the weather is good, but also means a
person is unable to access the counter to place an order like
• “Many restaurants are too crowded and it is difficult to
negotiate between tables with mobility aids.”
• “Even accessible restaurants, hotels etc often don’t have an
accessible toilet – this limits the amount of money a patron
with a disability is likely to spend on drinks.”
• “80 per cent of people over the age of 40 need glasses, but
most menus are unreadable by anyone who doesn’t have
20/20 vision and low lighting doesn’t help.”
• “The acoustics and music make it difficult to hear. There are
often no quiet corners where people with a hearing
impairment can sit without a great deal of background noise.”
• “People with a speech and/or mobility impairment have been
mistaken for someone who is drunk and asked to leave the
What tourism business operators said:
• “We operate in a rented premises, this makes physical
• “We have a relatively small customer base; it is just not viable
to build a ramp for the occasional customer who needs it.”
• “Atmosphere is really important, it is hard to cater for specific
needs and maintain the ambience you have put a lot of time
• “It is really frustrating, we spent $3,000 on this ramp and it
has never been used. A recent customer complained she
couldn’t use the ramp because the car park surface made
access difficult. We had surfaced the car park with pebbles to
try to deal with the problem of mud in winter. We thought we
were doing the right thing, but we just didn’t understand.”
Good practice examples …….
Lake Nillahcootie Estate, Lima South, Victoria. Winery offering
fine dining with fantastic views includes flat entry to dining and
deck areas, fully accessible toilet – seamless enjoyment for
everyone, designed and built fully accessible.
The Mansfield Hotel, Mansfield, Victoria. Recent renovations
have enabled full access for patrons for both indoor and
courtyard dining including the bar.
Country Brew Cafe, Mansfield, Victoria. Previously not
accessible, the choice of ramped access to a new deck area
instead of steps suggested by the Mansfield Shire Council
Municipal Building Surveyor has now opened up dining for
wheelchair users to both the external and internal areas which
can now be accessed via the deck.
5 Summary of key issues
The common issues evident from the literature and reinforced in
findings from the stakeholders interviewed for this project fall into
four main categories – communication, training, infrastructure and
• Lack of suitable information that is accurate and available in
accessible formats is a significant barrier to visitors with a
disability, and therefore to business development in this area.
While some regions and destinations have developed a range of
information products in a systematic way, access to this
information is not consistently available at the point of enquiry.
• Victoria is rich in tourism destinations, but there is a lack of
communication about, and marketing of, products and services
that are accessible to visitors with a disability, who need to be
informed on how to source information about destinations of
• Training programs could help to improve customer service and
thus improve attitudinal and awareness problems, while
improved information resources could help potential customers
to find and enjoy Victoria’s existing accessible tourism
• Difficulties encountered by people with a disability arise from
obstacles in existing infrastructure, including inaccessible
premises, transport, seating, support facilities and tourism
attractions, which may not comply with existing standards.
5.4 Support Services
• Available attendant support services and equipment for visitors
with a disability is another limitation preventing people with a
disability from travelling.
6 Goals and priorities
Developing Victoria as an accessible destination for visitors with a
disability is a long-term objective. It is recommended that we
identify priorities that can be achieved in the short term, to begin
the journey towards the bigger goals.
Three goals have been identified for this plan. These in turn are
supported by objectives and strategies. The goals target changing
attitudes, practices and communication.
Goal 1: Attitude
To develop a greater awareness and build a positive attitude
towards accessible tourism within the tourism industry in Victoria.
Goal 2: Business practice
To facilitate change towards more accessible and inclusive business
practice by operators in all areas of the tourism industry.
Goal 3: Communication/information
To facilitate the provision of accurate and accessible information
about tourism product, services, experiences, and destinations in
6 The Action Plan
The Victorian Accessible Tourism Plan 2007-2010 will be
implemented using an Action Plan which has been developed based
on these three key goals supported by objectives and strategies
that have come out of the extensive research undertaken during the
development of the Plan.
The Action Plan identifies a broad cross section of stakeholders as
responsible partners to action the strategies. This effectively
continues and extends the strong partnerships that have been
formed during the development of the Plan including both those
with expertise in the tourism industry as well as those who
represent travellers with a disability. By ensuring continuing
involvement of representatives from both these key groups, the
implementation of the Plan will be most effective.