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Sydney For All

Jun 30, 2008

ACCESSIBLE TOURISM PORTAL ENABLES SYDNEY FOR ALL

The accessible tourism market incorporates people with disabilities and those who are ageing and who have access needs (mobility, vision, hearing and communication). Significant numbers of Australians and people from overseas have disabilities – 600 million worldwide. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 4 million Australians have a disability

Yet, finding accessible tourism experiences and day trips has been a major issue for people with disabilities and those with access requirements. Many disability organizations provide member created word of mouth lists, tips and stories to help others plan their day trips and holidays more easily. However, these information systems are incomplete and problematic.

A prototype accessible tourism Web "portal", www.sydneyforall.com, aims to make it easier to find accessible destination experiences around Sydney for those with access needs. The portal reflects the findings of a research project and seeks to provide accessibility information about key tourism experiences that people can enjoy when they are in Sydney. The area covered by the portal includes The Rocks, Circular Quay, The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain. It also includes the Sydney Fish Markets, a ferry trip to Manly and a visit to North Head.

The research project was sponsored by the Sustainable Tourism Co-operative Research Centre, Tourism NSW, the Tourism and Transport Forum and the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change.

One key feature of the portal is its ability to provide information to people with vision impairment. The portal has been developed to meet international W3C Web Accessibility standards and was independently assessed by Vision Australia to verify compliance with those standards.

The information provided on the portal was gathered by people with disabilities actually experiencing the attraction and documenting that experience. Information was also provided by the attraction, many of which have implemented strategies to improve their access for people with access needs. For example, the Sydney Opera House has not only started to improve mobility access but also access for people with vision and hearing impairment.

The web portal offers information by icon, text, photographs and links to additional information. It embraces ‘wayfinding’ maps, transport, parking, toilets and most importantly the experience itself. The portal will also help providers within the tourism industry plan to market collaboratively, improve their services and encourage more tourists with disabilities to visit them.

As this is a test site and will be reviewed at the end of three months, feedback on the portal and suggestions are welcome. People can complete the independent survey that is linked to the portal, or you can contact either the researchers directly on accessibletourism@uts.edu.au or sydneyforall@tourism.nsw.gov.au

The long-term aim is to have a more expansive portal that will assist people to plan their holidays and will incorporate detailed transport, accommodation and disability support information.

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1. Based on the National Visitor Survey 88 per cent of these people travelled within Australia in the previous year, 7 per cent travelled overseas and most travelled in independent groups with an average size of 4.1 people. The accessible tourism market has recently been valued at $4.8 billion to the Australian economy2 with significant latent demand.

Further Information, please contact:

Dr Simon Darcy, UTS – 02 9514-5100 Simon.Darcy@uts.edu.au

Bruce Cameron, EAA – bruce_eaa@bigpond.com

1

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2004). Disability Ageing and Carers Summary of Findings, 2003 (Cat No. 4430.0). from http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/

2

Dwyer, L., & Darcy, S. (2008). Chapter 4 - Economic contribution of disability to tourism in Australia. In S. Darcy, B. Cameron, L. Dwyer, T. Taylor, E. Wong & A. Thomson (Eds.), Visitor accessibility in urban centres: Technical Report 90040 (pp. 15-21). Gold Coast: Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre (forthcoming).

Web Portal Front Page http://www.sydneyforall.com/