Accessible Tourism and the Purple Pound

by Final Year Tourism student Vionage Leyleen Maziwa

With a value of around £249 bn to the UK economy (BBC, 2017) the power of the ‘purple pound’ cannot be underestimated. But what is the purple pound and why is it so important for organisations to consider its importance? Colours have long been attributed to the purchasing power of target market segments, with the grey pound referring to the disposable income of older people and the purchasing habits of the LGBT community known as the pink pound. The colour purple refers to the potential spending power of disabled people.

A 2014 report from the Department for Work and Pensions suggested that high street businesses could be turning away the custom of 1 in 5 people by not attracting disabled people. Whilst many tourism businesses are not found on the high street, it is imperative that the tourism industry should recognise the value and importance of the purple pound.

Trips and spend of the Purple Pound

Figure 1 – Trips and spend of the Purple Pound

According to VisitBritain (2017) disabled British and international visitors currently spend over £3 billion on overnight tourism trips in England each year (Figure 1). Add to the mix their travelling companions and the total tourism spend by this market in England annually is estimated to be around £12 billion per year. So, for tourism organisations, improving accessibility could improve business.

What is accessible tourism?

Accessible tourism is tourism that is available to every person regardless of disability, health or other issues UNWTO (2012). It is important to remember that only around 8% of disabled people use a wheelchair, meaning that over 90% have hearing, visual or other mobility impairments that do not require the use of more obvious support. Assumptions that all people with disabilities present obvious signs detract from the provision of appropriate services and support (see figure 2 for examples).

Figure 2 - Impairment help symbols

Figure 2 – Impairment help symbols

People with accessibility needs include those who are or who present:

  • Wheelchair users
  • Learning disabilities
  • Visual impairment
  • Hearing loss
  • Mental impairment
  • Families with young children
  • Elderly
  • Autistic
  • Foreign language speakers

Needs they may require:

  • Lift
  • Disabled toilets
  • Blue badge holder parking space
  • Flat surface – (wheelchair friendly)
  • Automatic /extended/ double doors
  • Staff capable of speaking more than 1 language
  • Accessibility aids eg onsite wheelchair
  • Guide dog permit entry
  • Hearing impairment eg hearing loops

Research (Visit Britain, 2017) suggests that visitors who make up the accessible tourism market are:

  • More likely to take longer trips
  • Find seaside destinations particularly appealing
  • Anecdotally very loyal
Figure 3 World of Wedgwood

Figure 3 World of Wedgwood

As part of my final year Tourism project, l will be assessing accessible tourism provision in visitor attractions, with a focus on the World of Wedgwood. Consideration will be given to the extent to which the attraction meets the demands of the accessible tourism market. The aim of my study is to increase Wedgwood’s awareness of this rapidly growing market and to utilise Visit Britain’s accessible tourism toolkit to offer suggestions and recommendations for facilities and services on offer, in order to increase the chances of attracting more visitors with access needs.

Vionage Leyleen Maziwa

The author Vionage Leyleen Maziwa

Contact Details;

Vionage Leyleen Maziwa

Email: vlm.wisdom@hotmail.com

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References:

BBC News. (2017). The power of the ‘purple pound’. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/business-39040760/the-power-of-the-purple-pound-explained [Accessed 28 Nov. 2017].

Gov.uk. (2017). High street could be boosted by £212 billion ‘purple pound’ by  attracting disabled people and their families – GOV.UK. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/high-street-could-be-boosted-by-212-billion-purple-pound-by-attracting-disabled-people-and-their-families  [Accessed 28 Nov. 2017].

VisitBritain. (2017). Providing access for all. [online] Available at: https://www.visitbritain.org/providing-access-all [Accessed 28 Nov. 2017].

UNWTO.org.(2017). Manual on  Accessible Tourism for All:  Principles, Tools and Best Practices [online] Available at: http://cf.cdn.unwto.org/sites/all/files/docpdf/moduleieng13022017.pdf [Accessed 28 Nov. 2017].

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