The Gold Coast is set to welcome some changes towards accessibility in the region thanks to a new program aimed at improving access for disabled people.
The program is designed to benefit both residents and visitors to the area, especially in the accommodation, restaurant and service industries. Both in preparation for the 2018 Commonweal Games and beyond, the city is committed to providing equal access to people of any ability.
So what are the benefits of leasing or buying commercial property with disability access in mind?
As part of the overall Gold Coast 2020 program, the City of Gold Coast's Accessible and Inclusive City Action Plan will be a major milestone for the area. In a City of Gold Coast media release, mayor Tom Tate says that improving accessibility is a key aspect for tourism in the city.
"We are a progressive city and a tourism destination for everyone," he said in the city's first Accessible Tourism Forum which was held recently. "Accessible tourism is about ensuring everyone can participate in everything our city has to offer, regardless of ability. The forum encourages tourism businesses to be more accessible and have an inclusive approach to customer service."
In terms of practical approach, The Inclusive City Action Plan highlights seven key areas for improvement, totaling over 170 individual actions. The five-year plan (which initialised in 2014), aims to improve access to the following areas:
The plan will assist with the city's 2018 Commonwealth Games preparation by providing maps identifying accessible areas within the city and working closely with providers to increase accessible tourism ahead of the inevitable influx of visitors to the area for the event. Additionally, Cr Tate is encouraging all Gold Coast businesses to identify and take action on opportunities to improve accessibility and inclusivity.
"As the host of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Game, now is the time to ensure the Gold Coast is perfectly placed to welcome visitors of all ages and abilities," he said in the release.
Investing in commercial property with disability access goes beyond societal improvements. According to Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter, there is significant value in this subset of the market.
"Currently, the nation's Accessible Tourism market is worth $4.8 billion and we expect demand for modified accommodation options, wheelchair access and accessible transport to increase in coming years. The Gold Coast tourism industry must prepare now to meet this growing need with a genuine commitment," said Mr Winter.
This may provide significant opportunity for small to medium businesses in the Gold Coast region.
In terms of future-planning, the report highlights a growing need for not just tourism, but all industries to adopt inclusive practices in regards to disability and access. According to the report, 16.2 per cent of the Gold Coast population has a disability. As the population ages, this percentage will only increase. By 2031, 20.2 per cent of the city's population will be over 65 which the report correlates to an increased percentage of people with some level of disability. This means that commercial and retail businesses will need to have systems in place to meet this growing need for accessibility.
To find out more, get in touch with the team at Ray White Surfer's Paradise today.