A hazardous step, narrow doors or hidden dangers make holidaying in Western Australia for people with a disability so treacherous that 20 per cent of them just stay at home.
- According to Tourism Research Australia, 1 in 5 people with a disability aren't holidaying because it's too difficult
- A shortage of accessible accommodation and accessibility information are key barriers to travel
- Advocate Ben Aldridge hopes a proposed accessibility accreditation will create travel opportunities
The state has enjoyed a domestic tourism boom with a record number of West Australians wandering out yonder in 2020 and 2021, but those with a variety of disabilities have been discouraged to find their most basic needs were not met.
Disability advocate Ben Aldridge cited the tourism statistic that one in five people with a disability do not holiday because it is just too hard.
Mr Aldridge, who lives in a tourist hotspot in Western Australia's South West, said a lack of accessible accommodation and information around accessibility were the biggest factors stopping people from booking getaways in the region.
He said the filters available on many popular holiday planning sites did not take into account the breadth of disability, from people in wheelchairs to those with down syndrome or visual impairment, making it much harder for those people to find suitable accommodation.
Mr Aldridge has sought support from WA state government and organisations to develop an accessible tourism accreditation framework to help holidaymakers with a wide range of disabilities find the right room for their needs.
"The way that we're envisioning it… is that it would be an accreditation with an overall rating, and then six sub ratings to help represent the different and diverse needs of people with disability."
The important categories for tourism businesses to consider include; mobility, visual, auditory, learning, dietary and other.
"We will work with the co-design panel to ensure we accurately portray the disability experience," he said.
Accessible standards hit and miss
Greg Norton was one of the rare independent accommodation providers in the South West who built holiday chalets with disability access in mind.
He said holiday rentals that advertised as 'accessible' did not always cut the mustard once you arrived.
"You can get in and then there's a step there or something."
WA government supportive
WA Minister for Disability Services Don Punch said the Labor government has met with Ben Aldridge and supports the idea of accessible tourism.
However, Minister Punch stopped short of announcing any funding or official support for Aldridge's project.
"Ben's identified a very important issue."
"The industry bodies are also identifying that as an important issue, and it's a matter now of how we get to a landing in terms of supporting businesses to be more accessible for everybody."