How to be an accessible tourist destination

We’ve been working with tourist attractions throughout the country to help them improve their accessibility. Here’s what we’ve learnt.

Exterior photo of the Te Papa Museum, an angular modern building with a blue sky in the background. You can see there is level access to the main entrance.

There are some great examples of accessible tourist attractions around the country, covering all areas from natural wonders to sport and leisure or art and culture. Some have more challenges than others – a heritage building, underground caves, a cable car – but with commitment and imagination they’ve opened up the possibilities for visitors with a range of access needs.

If you run a tourist attraction and want to take the same journey, these tips will show you where to start.

1. Provide information in advance (and make it easy to find)

Accessible information on websites was one of the top enablers to participation in our Access Survey 2020. Your website should include how to get there (accessible parking, public transport details) and what to expect once you have arrived. And don’t hide your accessibility information away – make sure it is easy and obvious to find from your homepage.

Let people know, too, what arrangements you have for them to bring a companion – this was number 3 in the top enablers. Auckland Art Gallery for examples, states on its accessibility page that it offers free entry to accompanying carers. And tell visitors that their assistance dogs are welcome.

The New Zealand Parliament buildings has a Virtual Reality tour available on the website, which is helpful for people to view before they arrive for the actual tour.
The Te Papa Museum has a comprehensive Accessibility page on their website but also provides exhibition-specific information under the heading Accessibility | E Wātea anan ki on most exhibition pages.

Think about what your visitors might want to know. For example, Hamilton Gardens in Waikato has information on its website about pathway gradients, while the Hamner Springs pools and spa complex tells visitors that there are changing rooms with space for caregivers.

2. Consider a range of access needs

Accessible physical spaces are number 4 in the list of enables in the Access Survey 2020. That helps wheelchair users, people with mobility issues and parents with young children. But there is more to accessibility than that.

Think about everyone’s needs. For example, the Te Papa museum provides earmuffs to muffle noise, and sensory guided tours that focus on touch and sound. There is also seating throughout the museum, which helps visitors with mobility or health issues as well as people with children. Provide information in multiple formats: printed, verbal, digital, NZ Sign Language or audio described tours.

Provide listening systems and hearing loops for hard of hearing or Deaf visitors, and braille and tactile indicators to help visitors with visual impairments to navigate your premises.

And it’s not just about the main attraction. Think about your car parks, cafes, visitor centres (and their counters), shops and of course toilets – including a fully accessible Changing Places facility.

3. Be flexible

If there’s no accessible parking close by, provide a drop-off zone. Allow special arrangements in advance, offering parking in a restricted area or use of a lift that’s off the designated tour route.

Consider providing alternatives. The basement in the Parliament Buildings area with the base isolation earthquake-proofing is accessed via a flight of steep stairs but you can view base isolators from the Visitor Centre on an iPad.

4. Be welcoming

In our Access Survey 2020, welcoming and helpful customer service was the number one enabler that access citizens said would help them participate in activities and events.

Many of our top 10 destinations highlight their trained, helpful staff. The website for New Brighton Hotpools has a headline “For everyone”, and the message: “Please speak to our friendly staff at reception, or make us aware on your booking note, about any support you may require during your visit.”

Give your visitors the confidence to visit, knowing that your tourist destination is truly “for everyone”.

Could you become a top accessible tourist attraction?

Start now by using our free online assessment and get a free report on your attraction – or pick up the phone to investigate a full assessment by one of our Be. Coaches.

Contact

Phone
+64 9 309 8966
Email
Be. Lab Office
(Temporary Premises)
Level 5
48 Greys Ave
Auckland Central
Auckland 1010

Mail
PO Box 78 021
Grey Lynn 1245
New Zealand