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A new £45,000 online training programme is set to help Scotland’s hotels, visitor attractions, pubs and restaurants, better cater for the requirements of people with access needs including those with physical, sensory or learning disabilities, elderly visitors and parents with small children.

Minister for Tourism, Fergus Ewing officially launched the first phase of the e-learning Accessible Tourism Course at a visit to the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow, yesterday morning (23 June).

Available free of charge, the initiative will be available to all Scottish businesses. As well as promoting good practice, the training, which is split into four categories, accommodation, visitor attractions, restaurants and catering, and pubs and bars, will a provide users with a better understanding of the requirements of this growing market.

Accessible tourism was recently valued at more than £370m to the Scottish economy, an increase of £37m since 2009. The rise demonstrates the huge potential economic benefits to hundreds of businesses and services across the country of catering for this market.

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Everyone should have the chance to enjoy all that Scotland has to offer. This new online training programme will ensure we are fit for purpose and have services available that can accommodate all visitors to our country. Improving accessibility has real potential to help achieve tourism industry growth ambitions and boost the wider economy, as well as enhancing social equalities.”

Chris McCoy, VisitScotland Accessible Tourism Scotland project manager, said: “2014 is the year we welcome the world and we want to make sure everybody receives the same warm Scottish welcome. However, we know that poor customer service and a lack of accurate information are among the most common barriers facing visitors with access needs. This project is designed to help equip employees and managers with the skills and knowledge they may need to welcome all visitors, regardless of their access needs. We hope through innovative online tools such as this, we can position Scotland as a country with world-class accessible tourism facilities, offering more choice as well as excellent customer service.”

For more information about accessible tourism – http://scottishtourismalliance.co.uk/minister-launches-new-e-learning-tool-boost-370m-accessible-tourism-market/

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