International award for accessible tourism website

In summary: 
  • A web portal providing information about Sydney's accessible tourist attractions has won an international innovation award
  • The site, Sydney For All, was developed from research led by Associate Professor Simon Darcy from the UTS Faculty of Business

A web portal providing information about Sydney's accessible tourist attractions has won the World Leisure Organisation Innovation prize for 2010 announced recently at the World Leisure Congress in South Korea.

A team led by Associate Professor Simon Darcy from the UTS Faculty of Business and funded by a Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre research grant developed Sydney For All to cater for visitors with mobility, vision or hearing impairments or learning difficulties, who account for an estimated 11 per cent of the total tourism spend in Australia.

"The motivation behind the research that led to Sydney For All was to discover the quintessential experiences of Sydney, as the national tourism gateway, from the point of view of the accessible tourism market," Associate Professor Darcy said.

 The accessible pathway to the Opera Bar, from Sydney For All The accessible pathway to the Opera Bar, from Sydney For All

"The awarding of the World Leisure Innovation Prize recognises the groundbreaking approach to the research and the first rate operationalisation of the proof of concept through W3C protocols. Rather than simply looking at what accessible tourists can or can't do, the Sydney For All focus was on the quality of experiences across a broad spectrum of cultural, outdoor and harbour-based activities in and around Sydney's central business district, Rocks area and harbour foreshore.

"The aim was to create a process incorporating universal web design and inclusive practice for developing information, marketing and promotion approaches that would provide tourists with access needs with a framework to make informed choices for their tourism itineraries.

"The project was based on a participatory action approach that worked with major industry stakeholders and service providers to identify what first rate accessible experiences existed and to create an understanding that these are valuable offerings to travellers with access needs. Many of the service providers had not considered tourism as a component of their operations.

"What was exciting about this study was that no new accessible experiences were created for the project, instead all the experiences identified were already occurring within the stakeholder and service provider operations, and needed to the reframed within an accessible tourism context and collaboratively marketed."

Sydney For All is an ongoing partnership between Tourism NSW and Associate Professor Darcy.

A City of Sydney community development grant has provided further funding for Darling Harbour attractions that were added earlier this year with an accommodation module nearing completion.

For more, including an interview with Simon Darcy, visit Business21C.