22nd March 2018
As VisitEngland shines a spotlight on the country’s tourism industry in its celebrations for English Tourism Week from 17-25 March 2018, it is a good time to reflect on the progress being made for creating access for all. According to VisitBritain, more than one in six people in England and Wales have an ‘activity limiting’ health problem or disability. Also, British and international visitors from this market segment currently spend over £3 billion on overnight tourism trips in England each year.
However, results of the Access Survey 2017 by the charity Euan’s Guide and Disabled Access Day revealed that 83% of disabled people have been affected by poor accessibility. It also says 92% of disabled people do not feel very confident in visiting new places when thinking about disabled access. Therefore, new technologies like Google, adding accessibility details to maps, could make a positive difference.
Certainly, from an industry point of view, the demand for access solutions from tourist attractions, hotels and the transport industry are growing every day. Even historic environments which might have been deemed inaccessible because of the layout and fabric of the building, are now achieving access through sensitive alterations.
Here is just a taste of the innovative solutions available...
Physical barriers like steps and a difference in level can be overcome with platform lifts which can be installed, without affecting the integrity of the building, landscape or environment. There are also a huge range of materials available to complement or blend in both modern and traditional surroundings or can even match a brand. Here is just a taste of the innovative solutions available:
A Cantilever Platform Lift can be mounted in a pit at the foot of the staircase so when it is not in use it sits flush with the surrounding floor. The obvious advantages are that it does not create an obstruction and can be discreetly blended into the decor of the room or an external environment.
Where it isn’t possible to create a pit the EasyLift might provide a solution. This stylish access solution designed by architects and is suitable for both external and indoor settings. It features clean lines and can reach levels of up to 1.25m. Customers can choose from a variety of materials and finishes to complement an existing design or the surroundings.
If space is limited, then it is totally possible to double up steps and a platform lift. The FlexStep is an ingenious space saving 2-in-1 platform lift solution. It provides both stairs and a stairlift even in the tightest of spaces. At a touch of a button the FlexStep transforms from a flight of stairs to a platform lift - how clever is that!
When it comes to providing access between different floors a passenger lift is still the ideal solution, because it travels faster and can reach greater heights. This is perfect for new build tourist attractions, venues and hotels where a lift shaft and pit can be created, but probably not so great for older style buildings, unless of course there is an existing lift shaft.
You can reach different levels without disturbing the architecture of a building...
Luckily there is another option, a free-standing platform lifts which come with their own self-supporting shaft that can also be fire rated. These can still reach heights of up to thirteen metres and can be modified into a cabin structure, so it feels more like a passenger lift. The biggest advantage is they don’t require a pit and because they are free standing the fabric of the architecture remains undisturbed.
This is a brilliant solution for heritage buildings especially with a huge choice of different materials and styles available. The only real disadvantage is that they are slower, as platform lifts come under the machine directive, however they can still achieve 0.15m per second and offer an enjoyable passenger experience. In fact, the design of these lifts has become so far advanced there is little difference in the appearance of a platform lift to a passenger lift – they can look just as stylish.
With these stylish products being able to overcome physical and architectural barriers, the tourist industry now has a real opportunity to secure a sustainable future by creating better access whist enhancing its visitor experience.
The Access Survey 2017 includes the opinions of 712 people. The findings were primarily from disabled people (78%). The remainder was a combination of carers, friends, and healthcare professionals. To view the survey, go to: https://www.euansguide.com/access-survey.
English Tourism Week campaigns to raise the profile of the industry and celebrate the value and quality of tourism in England. https://www.visitbritain.org/english-tourism-week
More than one in six people in England and Wales have an ‘activity limiting’ health problem or disability. British and international visitors from this market segment currently spend over £3 billion on overnight tourism trips in England each year. In short, improving your accessibility could improve your business. https://www.visitbritain.org/providing-access-all