What is accessible tourism?

Accessible tourism is the ongoing endeavour to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age.

As well as a social responsibility, there is a compelling business case for making Victoria’s tourism industry more accessible.

Accessible tourism benefits everyone. More people enjoy the opportunity to travel, and the tourism industry gets more visitors, longer seasons and new incomes. Society as a whole benefits from new job opportunities, more tax revenue and an accessible environment for local communities and visitors.

  • Australia's population is ageing and there is a growing market for travellers with accessibility needs.
  • Almost one in five people has a disability of which nearly 90 percent take a holiday each year.
  • People with a disability account for some 8.2 million overnight trips and spend $8 billion or 11 percent of Australia’s overall tourism expenditure (Victorian Employer’s Chamber of Commerce).
  • When you consider parents travelling with children in prams, and larger groups that include people with a disability, the potential benefits of accessible tourism to your business are even greater.

Tapping into the overseas market

Many people with a disability living abroad will want to tap into what Melbourne and Victoria has to offer. Worldwide there are over one billion people with a disability including over 11 million people with a disability in the United Kingdom and 54 million people with a disability in the USA, representing a significant market.

Accessibility toolkit

Tourism and Events team, with support from the Office for Disability at the Department of Health and Human Services, has released a resource kit for the tourism industry called Accessible tourism: it's your business.

The Kit is the first of its kind for the Victorian tourism industry and aims to:

  • raise awareness or accessibility
  • provide support for the Victorian tourism industry to become more accessible and inclusive.
  • pay particular attention to the needs of tourism businesses, regional tourism boards and associations and visitor information centres

Incorporating best practices drawn from similar resources internationally, such as At Your Service, a resource created by VisitEngland to improve accessibility for customers in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Topics in the Kit include:

  • the common barriers preventing a tourism businesses from being accessible
  • marketing an accessible business
  • tips for assessing a building and facilities
  • developing an access statement
  • integrating accessibility into a business plan
  • integrating aim just accessible features into digital listings such as Visit Victoria

Download and read the Tourism Accessibility Resource Kit.

Meeting legal requirements - policies and legislation

A number of policies and legislation encourage or make it a legal requirement for services and buildings to be accessible. These are outlined below.

Disability action plans

Many of Victoria’s tourist attractions are developing disability action plans (DAPs).

DAPs can identify actions to remove barriers for people with a disability in relation to physical access, employment, participation and attitudinal barriers.

Section 38 of the Victorian Disability Act 2006 outlines the legal requirements to develop DAPs.

National Disability Strategy

The focus of the National Disability Strategy is improving access to mainstream services. A range of actions within the Strategy will help ensure more people with disability can enjoy holiday travel.

Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010

These Acts protect people with a disability from discrimination and legislate that reasonable adjustments are made to reduce barriers for people with a disability.

Resources and additional information

You can access the following websites for information related to accessible tourism, as well as some general resources about disability access and inclusion.

  • Visit Victoria, Accessible Victoria – the official tourist site for Melbourne and Victoria including information on accessible accommodation, activities and attractions and the best ways to get around in Melbourne and Victoria.
  • The Office for Disability – established in September 2006 to lead cross government approaches to mainstream disability policy. Its website includes links to resources designed to promote disability access and inclusion.
  • City of Melbourne Accessing Melbourne checklists - accessibility checklists designed for different types of businesses including retail, recreation and culture, dining and tourism
  • Travability is a website dedicated to providing accessibility information for the world's best travel destinations
  • Travellers Aid is an organisation that provides simple, practical travel-related support and aid to help visitors from all backgrounds travel independently and confidently.
  • Arts Access Victoria External link - organisation that aims to  External linkbuild the capacity of the arts, disability, community and education sectors to deliver increased and improved opportunities for arts and cultural participation for people with a disability.