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Disabled visitors not about ‘risk management’

Press Release   •   Oct 27, 2016 00:02 BST

Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Disabled visitors to Scotland should not be seen as “risk management” but as valued customers, according to the national tourism organisation.

Chris McCoy, Equality and Diversity Manager at VisitScotland, will today (Thursday 27 October) address delegates at the Rehabilitation International (RI) World Congress in Edinburgh to highlight the importance of Scotland’s £1.3 billion accessible tourism market.

VisitScotland’s Accessible Tourism Programme aims to harness the growing, high-value accessible tourism market, and for Scotland to become internationally recognised as a leading destination for people with access needs.

Chris McCoy said: “Legislation in the UK has empowered disabled people, making it illegal for service providers to discriminate on the grounds of disability, but it has not enabled them. VisitScotland believes access is enshrined only as a compliance issue, not a market issue. Disabled people still have difficulty finding businesses to cater for their access requirements, and provide adequate information to help make informed choices.

“Disabled people are seen as “risk management”, requiring expensive adjustments, but not as valued customers, requiring new and innovative customer service.”

Chris says that disabled people still have difficulty finding tourism businesses to cater for their access requirements, and to provide adequate information to help them to make informed choices.

She added: “Disabled people don’t want special products, they want to be part of the mainstream. They are seen by some as ‘risk management’, requiring expensive adjustments, but not as valued customers, requiring new and innovative customer service.

“Changes have to be transformational and our aim is to move the mindset of the industry and the driver for accessible tourism from compliance into the competitive marketplace.”

Hosted by disability employment charity Shaw Trust Scotland, the RI Congress at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre is seeking to influence disability and inclusion policy at a global level and is being attended by more 1,000 people from over 60 countries.

For more information about VisitScotland’s Accessible Tourism Programme, go to


About RI World congress

RIWC is staged every four years, in the name of the parent organisation – Rehabilitation International (also known as RI Global) – and hosted by a trusted member. This year’s event will be hosted by Shaw Trust in Edinburgh.

This will be the 23rd RIWC. The previous event was held in Incheon, Korea, in 2012 and opened by Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General. Read more at:

About Shaw Trust

Shaw Trust is a UK-based charity that delivers opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged people. To do this, it focuses on learning and skills development to help people realise their full potential. Last year Shaw Trust helped 50,000 people on their journey into work.

The charity also delivers employment support services across the UK through government contracts. Using its experience of delivering employment support services, Shaw Trust is supporting international efforts to refresh thinking on how more disabled and disadvantaged people can access work opportunities. Visit the Shaw Trust website to find out more:

Notes to Editors

  • Follow us on twitter: @visitscotnews
  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland       to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international       opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One       Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit or follow @scotgovESIF
  • For VisitScotland’s press releases go to, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to
  • Where possible, a Gaelic speaker will be made available for broadcast interviews on request (Far an tèid iarraidh, agus far am bheil sin nar comas, bruidhinnidh neach le Gàidhlig aig agallamh)
  • For holiday information on Scotland go to
  • For information about business events in Scotland go to

      2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design started on 1 January 2016 and will end on 31 December 2016.It will build on the momentum generated by the 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. 
  • Join the conversation at #IAD2016