Have money, will travel but access difficulties and closed doors still greet WA's disabled


Disability advocates are urging a rethink on accessible tourism as WA's travel sector struggles to make the transition out of coronavirus-imposed restrictions.

While accommodation providers in tourist hotspots in the state's south-west record strong occupancy rates, WA's disabled community says a lack of suitable accommodation is leaving them on the outer.

Bunbury's Paul D'Vorak, who lost the use of his lower body in a 2007 accident, said limited available resources were regularly booked by abled-bodied travellers.

"It's so limited. In peak season it's almost impossible to find accommodation, which means if you want to travel with your family you have to wait till off-season," Mr D'Vorak said.

"The only option is to book accommodation that isn't wheelchair friendly, but you don't want to be a burden on everyone on your holiday by having to have them help you in and out of showers, for example, so we just don't do it." The Skywalk juts out over Murchison River Gorge with a wheelchair-accessible pathway.

Disability advocate Ben Aldridge said the sector was a 'keen and willing' participant in domestic travel and conducted presentations with local councils spruiking the benefits of opening up regional WA to the disabled.

"The truth is, we are a market like anyone else, we have money to spend and if you make your business inaccessible, we are not going to spend our money where you are," Mr Aldridge said.

"We're not a special breed, we're not any different to anybody else in that want to go on holiday to relax and unwind. We want to take part and do the same as everybody else." Mr Aldridge said the benefits for accommodation providers were two-fold, citing estimates that the sector spent $8 billion on domestic tourism and travel with an average party size of three.

"The lines of communication within our community are strong," Mr Aldridge said.

"If we find accommodation, a venue or even a park that has something for us, we will be the first to let everyone know. Not only will we bring you patronage, but we will also keep coming back."

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