North York Moors Accessibility Project
VisitEngland's North York Moors Accessibility Project aimed to inspire people with accessibility requirements in the Dutch and/or German markets, and from the Explorer segment, to take short breaks in the North York Moors region.
This was achieved by delivering the following objectives:
- To develop and promote a high quality accessible tourism itinerary for the North York Moors, bookable for people in Germany and/or the Netherlands with accessibility requirements
- To support tourism businesses in the North York Moors to improve information, customer service and facilities for the benefit of both domestic and international visitors with accessibility requirements
- To support destination organisations (DOs) in the North York Moors to become local champions of long-term accessible tourism development.
- To act as a test and learn project to inform a potential wider roll-out.
VisitEngland has a longstanding accessibility work programme providing direction and support to businesses and destinations on harnessing the valuable and growing accessible tourism market. This includes providing the industry with a range of guidance, tools and resources in the Business Advice Hub.
VisitEngland has also undertaken product development and marketing projects that have developed and promoted accessible tourism itineraries.
In 2019 the Tourism Sector Deal announced the ambition to make the UK the most accessible tourism destination in Europe by 2025, with the target to increase inbound visits by disabled people by a third. The Tourism Recovery Plan published in June 2021 restates the commitment and accessible & inclusive tourism is a key aspect of the plan.
12 businesses in the North York Moors region were involved in the project, from experiences to attractions and accommodation:
- Inn on the Moor
- Sunday Cottage - North Yorkshire Moors Cottages
- Summerfield Farm
- Vale Cottage - Wellspring Farm Cottages
- Dalby Forest Cycle Hub
- Dalby Forest (Forestry England)
- Sutton Bank National Park Centre
- Yorkshire Coast Nature
A business engagement meeting was held at North York Moors heritage railway on 20th October 2021 to share the aims of the project and how businesses could get involved. Following completion of the Product Development phase of the project, a meeting was held with all participating businesses on 12th January 2023 to share learnings and the next steps in marketing.
Each of the participating businesses in the project received the following support to help them improve their accessibility:
- An accessibility audit and improvment plan
- An Accessibility Guide produced on their behalf
- Mystery shop(s) by local disabled people
- Support to develop information on their website
- A peer mentor from a similar business type in another destination
- Accessibility Champion training for key lead staff member(s)
- Online training for all front-line staff
- Ongoing support and advice from Professional Accessibility Mentors.
In addition, two destination-wide events were held in Whitby to engage businesses in the wider region with accessible tourism and showcase best practice from other tourism businesses. Two destination organisations, Discover Yorkshire Coast and The North York Moors National Park, were also supported to improve the accessibility information on their websites.
In autumn 2022 social media FAM trips were undertaken by disabled influencers @LifeofPippa and @WheelieGoodLife, in a content creation partnership with Purple Goat Agency. Both influencers also created blogs for VisitEngland.com.
The Guardian’s Travel Editor Jane Dunford also experienced the itinerary with her sister, a wheelchair user, and published an article on their website promoting accessible adventures in the North York Moors National Park.
This has been supplemented by promotion on VisitEngland's owned channels, including this listicle on seven accessible experiences in the North York Moors.
Paid international marketing commenced in the Netherlands at the start of January, focusing on YouTube where we showcased our inspirational video to encourage users to click through to bookable product on the Discover Yorkshire Coast website. In parallel, a promotional package in the specialist Dutch magazine Support Mag included an advertorial in the print magazine (holiday special), digital and social channels.
In May 2023 VisitEngland was awarded Digital PR Campaign of the Year 2023 for the campaign promoting the itinerary. Judges selected it as the winning campaign due to the creative solution it delivered and how it contributed to VisitEngland's wider accessible tourism objectives.
Access for All UK: Professional Accessibility Mentors (PAMs)
The role of the Professional Accessibility Mentors (PAMs) was largely to advise, guide and mentor 10-15 participating businesses through an Access for All Development Process in Phase 2 – Product Development.
Tourism for All: online accessibility training provider
The online accessibility training provider provided access to an existing online disability awareness e-learning programme for all customer facing staff at the 12 businesses between end September 2021 and end March 2022.
Kubi Kalloo: Audience research provider
The audience research provider completed two phases of research:
- Phase 1 - quantitative research, focused on the customer journey and holiday behaviour of German and Dutch Explorers with an accessibility requirement. Read the research report.
- Phase 2 - qualitative research, focusing on the testing of the proposed itineraries to establish their appeal and suitability for the target group. Read the research report.