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Accessibility of leisure attractions

Volume 687: debated on Monday 18 January 2021

The petition of the residents of Stroud and the surrounding area,

Declares that all leisure attractions including theme parks should be adjusted to ensure that they are accessible to all citizens; further that all attractions built in the future should be fully accessible where possible to ensure that all disabled visitors are provided with equal dignity, an equal opportunity to experience the leisure attractions and equal value of money for their trips as all other guests; and further that guests should not be required to take disability tests.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take into account the concerns of the petitions and take immediate action to ensure that all leisure attractions are accessible to all individuals irrespective of ability.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Siobhan Baillie, Official Report, 18 November 2020; Vol. 684, c. 434.]

[P002627]

Observations from The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Nigel Huddleston):

The Equality Act 2010 requires service providers, including tourist attractions such as theme parks, to make reasonable adjustments to improve access to disabled customers of all ages. Disabled customers should not be placed at a substantial disadvantage to non-disabled customers. This is an anticipatory duty, meaning that service providers should plan on the assumption that a proportion of their customers will be disabled and make adjustments for this, rather than waiting, for example, for specific requests for wheelchair access.

The Equality Advisory and Support Service can be contacted via its website, telephone or textphone by anyone who believes that they, or their children, have been discriminated against in the provision of services. This Service can contact a service provider on the customer’s behalf to discuss any particular concerns raised. It also liaises with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has powers to enforce the provisions of the Equality Act—although in most cases taking legal action will be a matter for individuals who believe that they have experienced discrimination.

More broadly, the Government are taking a number of steps to improve accessibility within the tourism sector. VisitEngland, the national tourist board, has developed a dedicated web portal providing tailored business advice to tourism businesses, including guidance on how to welcome guests with different access needs. VisitEngland has also made sure that its promotional and marketing activities are inclusive. For example, its Escape the Everyday campaign worked in partnership with Channel 4 to launch the Mission: Accessible series, which showcases accessible places to visit across the UK.

At the Budget last year, the Chancellor announced a £30 million Changing Places Fund to increase the provision of Changing Places toilets in public buildings, including leisure buildings and theme parks.

The Government have also committed to publishing a National Strategy for Disabled People.

The Tourism Sector Deal, published in June 2019, set out an ambition to make the UK the most accessible destination in Europe by 2025. We will continue to engage with stakeholders to assess how we can support inclusive tourism as the sector recovers from covid-19.