Accessible tourism

The national strategy for Australia’s visitor economy, THRIVE 2030, makes accessible tourism a priority.

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Why accessible tourism matters

Tourism businesses are looking for ways to grow in the post-COVID era. 

Accessible tourism ensures everyone, regardless of age or ability, can enjoy the same tourism products, services and experiences. It makes good business sense. 

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s People with disability in Australia report (2024) found:

  • 18% of Australians, or 4.4 million people, have a disability
  • 22%, or 5.5 million, have a long-term health condition.

In the June quarter 2023 alone, Tourism Research Australia estimates the total value of domestic travel by people with accessibility needs and people who travelled with them was $6.8 billion. This represents 21% of total domestic tourism spend in that quarter. 

Making products or services more accessible opens new and valuable markets for tourism businesses.  

How to be an accessible tourism business

The WELCOME Framework is a guide to making tourism more accessible to all travellers. It has simple, practical tips to start your business on its accessible tourism journey. Find out more about the WELCOME Framework.

To further help tourism operators to become more accessible and inclusive, we have compiled a list of accessible tourism resources.

The accessible tourism opportunity

Including travellers of all physical and cognitive abilities meets growing customer demand. It also shifts attitudes and norms. This means everyone can enjoy themselves while taking part.

The accessible tourism community includes people with disability, a long-term health condition or mobility needs. Categories could include individuals with:

  • limited mobility
  • wheelchairs and scooters
  • low vision
  • low hearing
  • cognitive impairment/autism
  • allergies and intolerances.

Travel companions may include family, friends, support workers, workmates, sports team members and carers.

Other visitors can benefit from improved access, including:

  • the elderly
  • those with temporary needs, mobility issues or medical conditions
  • parents with prams
  • multigenerational family groups.  

Action on tourism accessibility

Australia’s national visitor economy strategy, THRIVE 2030, recognises the importance of improving accessibility.

THRIVE 2030 contains 2 action items on accessibility. They are:

  • to develop assets, infrastructure and experiences that are accessible to all people, regardless of physical limitations, disability or age
  • to improve promotion, marketing and provision of information about accessible infrastructure available at destinations, accommodation, venues and experiences and business sustainability practices.

Industry leads these action items. All levels of government support them.

Other Australian Government initiatives

Other recent Austrade-led initiatives supporting accessible tourism include the:

An Australian Government project to increase the recruitment of people with disability in the visitor economy is the Disability Employment Tourism Local Navigators Pilot.

Industry initiatives

Industry initiatives supporting accessible tourism include the:

More about the WELCOME Framework

The WELCOME Framework is a result of the national Accessible Tourism Mentoring Pilot Project. This project mentored 110 tourism operators around Australia to improve accessibility and inclusion.

Eleven tourism businesses acted as accessible tourism champions for the project. Champions offer examples and advice for other tourism operators wanting to become more accessible.

Push Adventures delivered the project for Austrade. State and territory governments provided funding.