The Vancouver Island Region now has a series of accessible travel guides to serve travellers of all abilities.
The new accessible travel guides highlight accessible tourism products within 17 participating Vancouver Island communities, providing recommendations and sharing trip considerations.
With the collaboration of 4VI (formerly Tourism Vancouver Island), Spinal Cord Injury BC, Destination British Columbia, and a group of Community Destination Management Organizations, each guide was developed by working with travellers with both visible and invisible disabilities.
“Meeting and engaging with a scope of individuals to promote and connect over accessibility has been enlightening and motivating,” said Lexa Bergan, project lead and a British Columbia-based disability advocate. “Having experienced chronic illness and disability for many years of my life, I have an empathetic understanding of the challenges one can experience when adaptations are required in day-to-day life and when travelling. As an advocate, I work to bring more equitable experiences for those requiring adaptations in our community and culture so that we may all show up and live our most expansive lives.”
The guides were funded through grants obtained by the Community Destination Management Organizations and supported by 4VI as part of a commitment to creating a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible tourism industry in the Vancouver Island Region. The accessible travel guides serve to provide representation for travellers with disabilities and to support them with practical information that preserves their enjoyment and dignity while visiting. They also provide businesses with access to information and resources to better understand barrier-free access to their services.
“It is important to recognize that, for many decades, tourism marketing has been almost exclusively focused on those without disabilities and this has created barriers to welcoming a valued and diverse variety of people,” said Anthony Everett, president and CEO of 4VI. “The collaboration between 17 communities, Destination British Columbia, and Spinal Cord Injury BC was successful due to a shared understanding that our approach to marketing must consider principles of inclusiveness, diversity, equity, and accessibility.”
The information gathered in the accessible travel guides is based on consultations with accessibility experts and partners identified by community destination management organizations and first-hand experience while visiting each community. The experiences will be different for each traveller, but the information is meant to ease trip planning and ensure that Vancouver Island is an inclusive travel destination with unforgettable vacation experiences for all.
Many of the participating community destination management organizations have already launched accessibility pages on their respective websites so that visitors can select the tourism and hospitality options that work best for them. Participating community partners include Comox Valley, Cowichan region, Nanaimo, Parksville/Qualicum Beach, Tofino, Ucluelet, Vancouver Island North, and Victoria.