‘Disability passport’ tourist business boost

Wednesday 27th April 2022 7:30 am
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A high sheriff of Gwynedd has unveiled a major campaign helping tourist businesses across North Wales to cash in on spending by visitors with a disability or additional needs.

Mum-of-three Davina Carey-Evans, whose 27-year-old son Benjamin has severe autism, said she had spent a lifetime visiting leisure attractions with her son only to realise on arrival they were unsuitable for his needs.

As Gwynedd’s new High Sheriff, Davina is determined to help businesses improve accessibility so other families – especially those with hidden disabilities - can enjoy the full range of North Wales’s excellent leisure facilities.

Davina, who hails from Criccieth and now Anglesey-based with event and marketing experience, set up PIWS (Welsh for purple) as a Community Interest Company to help businesses tap into the spending power of disabled people in the UK.

In partnership with the national charity Nimbus Disability, she has launched a new campaign to boost awareness and registration of the Access Card among the hospitality and leisure industry in North Wales.

The card informs leisure providers quickly and discreetly about the support holders may need when accessing their attractions and services through a range of disability or impairment symbols.

The card acts as a ‘Disability Passport’ and highlights sensitively the barriers visitors might face and the reasonable adjustments business owners may need to make to welcome them.

Davina said: “I’ve had a lifetime of trying to visit locations where people have only catered for wheelchair users. This is one of the reasons why I set up PIWS which represents the so-called ‘purple pound’ – the spending power of people living with disabilities in the UK.

“Accessible tourism is worth an estimated £15 billion per year in the UK alone and yet only 10 per cent of businesses in Wales - if that - are targeting that audience.

“There’s a fear among businesses of saying they cater for a disability because they don’t want to get it wrong but instead find it easier to do nothing.

“Leisure businesses need to offer more than just a policy or mission statement on their website with no real understanding of what it means. This is not about giving anyone a hard time. Attitudes need to change.

“What we are trying to create with PIWS is an opportunity for businesses to start their journey in a realistic way that they can manage without huge expense and to use the tools we are putting together.

“As they gain that confidence, both PIWS and people with disabilities will constructively support them.”

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