The latest Cumbria Visitor Survey shows that 14% of visitor groups included someone in the party with health issues or a disability that limits their daily activities. This potentially includes many conditions which aren’t visible (such as arthritis, autism or hearing loss).
Cumbria Tourism’s research also confirms that 40% of people choose the Lake District, Cumbria for its health and wellbeing benefits. So Cumbria Tourism’s Accessible Cumbria activity is all about making it easier for everyone to enjoy shared tourism experiences, acknowledging that individuals make joint decisions about where to visit which meet the needs of everyone in their group.
There is also a compelling business case for making tourism venues and experiences more inclusive. According to VisitBritain, people with health conditions and impairments – and their travelling companions – spend around £15.3 billion on trips in England each year. What’s more, they are more likely to take longer trips and tend to make repeat bookings.
In Cumbria, we know that almost a quarter of the local population is registered disabled, which is above the national average. With the local visitor market being increasingly important post-pandemic, the accessibility of tourism services is vital for the quality of life in our local communities.
The Accessible Cumbria campaign aims to provide:
A coordinated approach
Cumbria Tourism chairs the Accessible Cumbria Partnership, which is a network of businesses and organisations across the county who are all working together to improve access to the area.
We have some fantastic member businesses with accessible facilities, including some specially adapted rooms. There are members offering specialist residential holidays, as well as activity businesses with great inclusive facilities, experiences and services. The Lake District, Cumbria also has a number of accessible walking routes such as ‘Miles without Stiles’ and ‘More to Explore’.
Cumbria Tourism’s role is all about joining up products and itineraries county-wide, building on the demand for people to explore more widely and enabling visitors to make their own informed decisions about what is accessible and doable for them.
Support for businesses to develop accessible products and services
Improving your accessibility for the benefit of all customers doesn’t necessarily involve big, expensive changes. Cumbria Tourism will be working with partners to help operators access business support and events throughout the year – helping you meet the needs of this key market.
If you’d like help to better understand people’s needs, provide clear information and make basic adjustments to your facilities, look out in our weekly member e-newsletters for future updates. In meantime, there are a range of useful resources below from VisitBritain and other national partners.
Information and signposting
A lack of information has been identified as one of the main travel barriers for people with an impairment. Thanks to sponsorship from our Patrons, United Utilities, we are working to improve and integrate accessibility information on visitlakedistrict.com, both on individual listings and across the site as a whole. Part of this activity focuses on making accessible businesses more searchable online.
Also keep an eye out for national awareness days and movements such as Purple Tuesday and the annual International Day of People with Disabilities which you can develop into your own PR opportunities.