Travelling when you have a disability can be challenging, from arranging assistance to and from the aeroplane, to finding suitable adapted and step-free accommodation. The location you are travelling to also matters, with some places being far more accessible and wheelchair friendly than others.
However, the BBC reports that the world is now waking up to the fact that a significant proportion of people with disabilities do frequently travel or would like to travel more often. As the tourism industry seeks to rebound from the impact of the pandemic lockdowns, many cities are now making an extra effort to accommodate disabled travellers.
A recent survey identified four cities in particular that were considered manageable places to visit for disabled travellers: Singapore, Las Vegas, Sydney, and London. Here’s a look at what sets these destinations apart from the rest.
Singapore was rated most highly by disabled travellers, particularly the public transport system. The underground metro has level access to all of the carriages from the platform edge, making it possible for users of mobility scooters and wheelchairs to embark and disembark unassisted.
Furthermore, the vast majority of walkways and taxi stands, bus shelters, and buses are wheelchair accessible.
Las Vegas in the USA also ranked highly for accessibility, with a high proportion of accessible hotel rooms and attractions. This is perhaps due to the fact that the city relies on tourism for 20% of GDP and 30% of all employment, more than twice the national average. Given that a quarter of all US citizens have a disability, it makes economic sense.
Sydney, the popular Gold Coast Australian city, was singled out for its public transport system and its accessible major attractions including the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
Julie Jones, an author and disabled travel campaigner, commented: “The majority of the public transport system is accessible to wheelchair users, including our Sydney ferries, which offer the best views of our beautiful harbour. There are kilometres of level accessible paths around the harbour linking the Opera House to Darling Harbour and beyond. Being able to walk or wheel alongside some of the best views of the city is a treat.”
She added: “Recently, our Sydney rail network became more accessible to people with hidden disabilities with the staff now trained to recognise and respond to travellers wearing the hidden disabilities lanyard.”
Finally, London was recommended for its accessible transport and inclusive cultural attractions, such as the British Museum, the National Gallery, and the Natural History Museum.
Transport for London runs a ‘turn up and go’ service on the London Underground, the London Overground, and the Elizabeth Line. This is for everyone with mobility impairments and any other form of disability. Visitors simply need to turn up and request staff assistance for help accessing the platforms and the trains, and for advice about step free routes.
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