Monarto Safari Park makes accessible tourism a priority

Improving the visitor experience is a focus for Monarto Safari Park. 

It’s run by Zoos SA, a conservation charity. The park’s goal is to connect more people with its animals and nature.

Making tourism more accessible can open new and valuable business markets. Monarto is taking advantage of this potential.

Around 4.4 million Australians or 18% of the population have a disability (Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, People with Disability in Australia web report, last updated 5 July 2022). Disabilities can range from physical to sensory and intellectual. With our country’s ageing population, the numbers affected are expected to increase.

Then, there’s always demand from those with short-term mobility issues, such as parents with prams or people with injuries. Tourism Research Australia’s (TRA’s) National Visitor Survey data estimates that in 2022, travel groups including people with a disability or a long-term health condition in Australia accounted for:

  • $21.2 billion (16% of total) of domestic spend (domestic day and overnight trips)
  • 59.6 million domestic trips (20% of total).

New visitor centre was built with access in mind

Monarto Safari Park’s new visitor centre and precinct opened in March 2022.

‘As a new build, this project allowed us to prioritise accessibility throughout the design process,’ says General Manager Visitor Operations, Steve Callery.

‘We worked with Architecture & Access, the largest access consultancy business in Australia. We considered everything from the car park, aisle widths, counter heights and railing design. We know that we do more than just conservation, we create lasting memories. Increasing our reach to include more visitors who can enjoy the park is a huge win,’ says Callery.

A group of people, including a person in a wheelchair, on a ramp watching lemurs.

Visitors at Monarto Safari Park, where the new visitor centre is designed with accessibility in mind.

The Accessible Tourism Mentoring Pilot Project

In 2022, the Accessible Tourism Mentoring Pilot Project helped tourism operators explore practical ways to improve inclusivity. Austrade delivered the pilot project in partnership with states and territories. Monarto Safari Park is one of the project’s Accessibility Champions.

‘The audit that we did with (pilot delivery partner) Push Adventures showed us how great a need there is for accessibility,’ says Callery. ‘It’s a growing community and it’s been really rewarding for the whole team.’

The power of word-of-mouth marketing

As soon as the new visitor centre opened, the staff noticed an increase in visitors from the accessible travel community.

‘Word had clearly spread throughout the community about our increased focus on accessibility,’ says Callery. ‘It was rewarding to see an abundance of wheelchairs, mobility aids and requests from accessibility providers to assist with private group tours.’

In 2023, Monarto Safari Park received silver for the Excellence in Accessible Tourism award at the South Australian Tourism Awards.

Monarto Safari Park provides accessibility information on its website. A dedicated page outlines access requirements and has a social story for children with Autism. There is also information on the park’s low- and high-sensory areas.

Future plans

Monarto Safari Park was awarded a grant from Variety South Australia. The grant enables accessible improvements to the site. Improvements include glass panelling for better visibility, and interpretive signage on animal platforms.

A new addition to the fleet is the accessible Variety SA On Safari truck. The truck takes visitors on Wild Africa ‘sneak peek’ safari tours before the precinct opens later in the year. Once open, the vehicle will ensure everyone gets to enjoy the unique safari setting.

To help non-verbal children, the park will install a communication board/panel at the visitor centre.

Learn more

Improving the accessibility of tourism destinations and experiences is a priority of THRIVE 2030, the national long-term strategy for the visitor economy. Learn more about THRIVE 2030.

Visit Monarto Safari Park for more information.

Growing the visitor economy

THRIVE 2030 is Australia’s national strategy for the long-term, sustainable growth of the visitor economy.