Renowned for a famous warm welcome, the region’s industry showed a commitment to ensuring their visitor experiences are accessible and inclusive, recognising that small changes can have a huge impact.

At the event, held at Crowne Plaza in Newcastle, businesses heard from industry expert, Chris Veitch from Access and Inclusion UK about ways to improve their offer for people with access needs, from businesses who have implemented processes and tools to improve their visitor experience and directly from service users.

As part of the Everybody Welcome initiative, funded by North of Tyne Combined Authority and delivered by Destination North East England, businesses across the region have been accessing support, industry expertise and tools to increase their share of England’s £15.3 billion accessible tourism market.

Everybody Welcome helps improve experiences for visitors, ensuring visitors, including those living in the region with hidden and physical disabilities, can experience the destination with confidence.

Purple Tuesday is a global social movement for improving the customer experiences for people with access needs and their families 365 days a year. Tourism businesses attending the event were encouraged to make a public commitment to improve accessibility and practices, ensuring that customers with access needs have a more inclusive and positive experience.

Destination North East England has set out an ambition and commitment to driving the accessibility agenda across the regional visitor economy, celebrating, and driving quality within the industry.

Destination North East England is led by NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) on behalf of the region, working with delivery partners Visit Northumberland and Visit County Durham and working in partnership with all seven local authorities.

Ian Thomas, Visitor Economy Director, NGI, said:

“Government wants the UK’s tourism offer to be considered the most accessible of any in the world and to maximise the value of the ‘purple pound’, which is the spending power of people with access needs. There are 1.8 billion disabled people in the world, representing 17% of the population and our region is committed to ensuring that visitors with access needs receive the warmest possible welcome.

“Ensuring the North East is playing its part in making the UK the most accessible visitor destination in Europe, is a key priority for the visitor economy here. We hope that through the Everybody Welcome initiative, businesses feel empowered to continuously improve their offer so that any visitor receives the same excellent welcome the North East is so famous for.”

Chris Veitch , Inclusive Tourism Consultant , Access and Inclusion said:

“At the heart of Purple Tuesday is the message of how important the welcome is for disabled people, as it is for us all. A warm welcome tells customers how a business knows them, understands them and values them. In other words, being inclusive puts all customers at the heart of any business.

“I have been working with Destination North East England to support tourism businesses in the North East to make small changes that can have a big impact and importantly, to shout about how accessible they are already because it benefits both the business and the person when accessibility information is easy to find.”

Paul Borg, General Manager, Crowne Plaza Hotel Newcastle, said:

“Hotels play a pivotal role in ensuring that every guest, regardless of their abilities, feels welcome and valued. At Crowne Plaza Newcastle – Stephenson Quarter, we are committed and dedicated to creating a warm and accessible environment for all, because we believe that inclusivity is not just a choice but a responsibility.”

As part of the Purple Tuesday celebrations, the Tyne Bridge, Millennium Bridge and Newcastle Civic Centre were lit purple marking the region’s commitment to being an accessible destination.

Tourism businesses who want to commit to providing inclusive experiences for visitors with access needs can join the Everybody Welcome initiative by visiting https://www.ngi.org.uk/ew/

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