Cairns and Far North Queensland tourism operators are being encouraged to consider ways to create more accessible tourism in the region at a forum being held today.
Disabilities Minister Curtis Pitt said the Accessible Tourism forum was a great opportunity for businesses to learn how to tap into the multi-billion dollar domestic accessible tourism market.
“Cairns and the Far North offer some of the best tourism experiences in Australia, from the reefs and beaches to the rainforests,” Mr Pitt said.
“Unfortunately, some tourists with a disability or seniors may feel excluded because they might miss out on sightseeing or other activities due to their physical limitations.
“This forum provides a wonderful opportunity for local tourism operators to learn how to open up their businesses so these tourists don’t look to alternatives.
“The domestic market for these tourists is $4.8 billion annually, so there’s a huge business opportunity for operators to explore.
“Cairns has a good base on which to improve its share of the accessible tourism market.
“In fact, Cairns has a world class international convention centre that is fully accessible and is hosting the State Disability Conference in September.
“The award winning Mamu Rainforest Canopy just outside Innisfail provides wheelchairs access to the tree-top walk and also caters for vision impaired people with Braille and large print guides as well as tap rails and hand rails.
“We already have good infrastructure in place – currently in Cairns there are over 90 wheelchair accessible rooms for guests with varying levels of disability, we have 13 maxi taxis and 55 accessible buses.
“The recently refurbished Cairns Domestic Airport goes beyond the required accessibility standards and we have a world class tennis centre and a number of athletics venues that can host all ability sporting events.
“A big issue for people with disabilities in regards to tourism is securing accurate and reliable information about their accommodation – many are given inaccurate advice and are therefore very wary.
“So what Cairns can do better is advertise the fact that we have all this in place to host visitors with a disability.”
Mr Pitt said accessible tourism allows families to have inclusive holidays together.
“The government is just as committed to accessible tourism as we are to providing accessible schools and homes,” he said.
“Providing opportunities for people with a disability or seniors to enjoy a fantastic holiday is imperative.
“And after the damage done by Cyclone Yasi and the floods, this is another way we can help the tourism market to recover.”
Mr Pitt said this philosophy also aligned with the government’s Toward Q2: Tomorrow’s Queensland vision of creating more caring communities and was a prime example of the government working in partnership with the business sector to improve the lives of Queenslanders with a disability.
Mr Pitt said Dr Simon Darcy from the Sport and Tourism University of Technology Business School had commissioned a report called Accessible Tourism Concepts and Issues.
“Dr Darcy’s report shows 51,820 jobs in tourism could be created in Australia with a move to more accessible tourism,” he said.
People with a disability, their families and carers can now find information on government supports and services at www.qld.gov.au/disability