Congratulations to the Hoteliers' Forum for taking action to make hotels more accessible to disabled guests and staff. The forum was launched last week by senior hoteliers and industry specialists under the auspices of the Prince of Wales' Advisory Group on Disability.
Members of the forum include representatives from 12 hotel groups, including Forte, Thistle and Mount Charlotte Hotels, Queens Moat Houses, Stakis, Jarvis Hotels and De Vere. They have committed themselves to six key objectives:
This final objective is crucial to the way many people in hospitality see the development of tourism for the disabled. In the past, many of the efforts to cater for disabled customers have centred on providing facilities separate from main areas.
In future, however, the emphasis will be on making all hotel and restaurant facilities suitable for those customers with mobility, visual or hearing impairments.
Of course, hoteliers are not just taking action out of the goodness of their hearts. The forthcoming disability discrimination legislation, due to come into force next year, is bound to act as an incentive to change. So, too, is the sound commercial sense of providing accessible facilities for all - estimated to be worth an extra £17b a year across Europe in a report from Touche Ross two years ago.
But whatever the motives, it is important that the lead taken by the forum and its 12 hotel group members is followed. A few have already taken great strides but there are others who have paid little more than lip service to common sense practices that will soon become a legal requirement.