Accessible Destination Suffolk launch aims to boost the visitor economy

16 Nov, 2023

A drive to grow the value of the Purple Pound across Suffolk’s visitor economy was launched at The Hold, in Ipswich, on 16th November.

Suffolk Growth Partnership, working alongside Suffolk County Council and all of Suffolk’s local councils and visitor economy partners, announced the launch of Accessible Destination Suffolk – a welcoming, accessible and inclusive destination.

The event was designed to further raise awareness of the benefits of driving greater accessibility and inclusion across Suffolk’s visitor economy, following a Suffolk Growth report of the spending power of disabled people visiting Suffolk being valued at over £300 million per year.

Alongside the economic benefits, Accessible Destination Suffolk, will drive accessibility benefits to Suffolk’s residents, communities and support health and wellbeing.

Working in partnership with national experts AccessAble, the event celebrated the first 100 venues and companies to commit to producing Detailed Access Guides, and the launch of the Disability Essentials online training package, free to Suffolk visitor economy businesses.

Cllr Bobby Bennett, Suffolk County Council Cabinet lead for Equalities and Communities commented,

“The launch of Accessible Destination Suffolk cements our commitment to an accessible and thriving visitor economy.
We are extremely fortunate to have so many places of interest in Suffolk, from our natural environment to our cultural, hospitality, retail and leisure attractions. We want to make Suffolk more accessible and working together will help us to build on the good practice and hard work already happening, learn from one another and champion our role as advocates for an accessible visitor economy in Suffolk”.

Carrie-Ann Lightley, leading disabled travel blogger and AccessAble’s Head of Marketing, said:

“We were delighted to work in partnership with Suffolk Growth Partnership to create Detailed Access Guides to tourism venues across Suffolk. Accessible Destination Suffolk will enhance the experience for everyone, with the AccessAble website giving disabled people access to crucial details on the go. Disability Essentials E-learning will support staff to become more confident and skilled in their engagement with both customers and colleagues, uniquely combining legal expertise with lived experience. We hope that other organisations will look to follow Suffolk Growth’s example and partner with us in our mission to enable disabled people to have greater freedom in exploring visitor destinations.”

Ross Calladine, VisitEngland Head of Business Support and Government-appointed Disability and Access Ambassador for Tourism said:

“VisitEngland welcomes the Accessible Destination Suffolk initiative as we drive progress towards the Government’s ambition for the UK to become the most accessible tourism destination in Europe. A recent government survey found that 45% of people who identify as disabled had not taken an overnight holiday in England in the previous 12 months, showing that accessible and inclusive tourism is a huge opportunity for the tourism industry as well as a responsibility.”

Suffolk Growth’s visitor economy lead Richard Hunt was keen to engage more partners and businesses in the project.

“We know that there is good practice taking place across Suffolk’s visitor economy, but we also know there is the potential to do more. We want to build on the excellent work of Visit England and Access Able to support businesses on their accessibility journey. Working with our local councils, AccessAble, and local business to produce high-quality Detailed Access Guides is a really positive foundation to build on.”

Top image – Richard Hunt, Suffolk Growth [Credit Simon Lee Photography]

David Livermore, AccessAble

David Livermore, AccessAble (credit Simon Lee Photography)

Cllr Bobby Bennett

Cllr Bobby Bennett, Suffolk County Council (credit Simon Lee Photography)

Lydia from AccessAble

Lydia Wilkins, AccessAble (credit Simon Lee Photography)