A bold new plan to make holidays in Fife more accessible was launched by Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Tourism at Rufflets Hotel in St Andrews.
The #AccessibleFife project is led by the Fife Tourism Partnership, Homelands Trust - Fife in Lundin Links and The Rings holiday homes in Cupar, who together aim to boost training and investment in make the area inclusive to all visitors.
Jan Kerr, trustee at Homelands Trust - Fife spoke, who spoke at the launch event was encouraged by the broad range of tourism businesses who signed up to the initiative.
She said: “Holidays are about the whole experience and not just about where you stay. This project should help promote accessible activities in the area and hopefully other businesses will see the benefit and it can be expanded upon.”
While a number of Fife tourism businesses have already made changes to improve their accessibility, they do not often promote these. The project seeks to promote these facilities with the aim of producing an “Accessible Itinerary for Fife”.
Chris McCoy MBE, head of accessible tourism for VisitScotland said: “This is a project to “unlock the potential” for the tourism industry to market their business to customers with access requirements. It will provide the tools for Fife businesses giving them the ability to provide a quality tourism experience to those who normally cannot access holidays, and provide a real Scottish welcome to all our visitors.
“We are continuingly working to position Scotland as a country with world-class accessible tourism facilities, offering more choice as well as excellent customer service.
Chris who lives in West Wemyss was awarded an MBE in January for services to social equality and cites developing this project as her biggest achievement so far. She said: “I have worked with some very inspirational disabled people such as Euan McDonald, who despite living with MND set up and runs Euan’s Guide. I have worked with many great people in the tourism industry and I hope I have made them think differently about people with access needs.”
Alistair Bruce, Fife Tourism Partnership chairman, said: “I’m delighted that Fife venues are already being recommended for their service and accessibility and hope that many more will participate soon.”
The accessible tourism market was valued at £1.5bn in 2013 and includes overnight stays as well as day visits, so delivers compelling economic as well as social benefits.
Mr Ewing said: “I would encourage Fife businesses to take part in the pilot project and help make the Kingdom a truly accessible destination. We are committed to accessible tourism, helping to raise awareness of these issues within the industry and stressing the importance of giving every visitor to Scotland the same warm welcome.”