Scotland is world-renowned as a friendly and welcoming country.

Our visitors cite as much in survey after survey.

However, we must ensure the entire visitor experience matches our famous welcome.

From transport to accommodation, from attractions to eating out, we want to ensure that all visitors can have a great experience without barriers.

Today marks Purple Tuesday - a global social movement that helps businesses to improve the experience for their disabled customers - and VisitScotland’s third year as a founding partner.

Improving accessibility, referred to as inclusive tourism, is a key part of VisitScotland’s responsible tourism strategy.

Responsible tourism is about managing the economic, social, and environmental impacts of tourism. It aims to maximise the positive impacts and minimise the negative ones to create a destination that benefits all who live and visit here.

Inclusive tourism, therefore, ensures that all visitors can have a great time without any barriers or restrictions.

It is not just an aspirational goal but makes economic sense.

Inclusive tourism is an incredibly valuable market both in terms of volume and value.

It covers a wide range of people, from those with hearing loss, mental or visual impairments, and wheelchair users, to senior travellers and families with young children.

Disabled people tend to travel in larger groups and stay longer, while the average senior traveller spends 35% more on leisure and hospitality than other age group.

Feedback from tourism businesses, who cater for the inclusive tourism market, report higher occupancy rates with higher levels of repeat business. An Ageing Population report by Barclays also reported that senior travellers are more loyal than the 18–34-year-old market, with 86% likely to make a return visit.

Even the most minor changes, such as creating an accessibility guide, can have a huge impact on a business and its potential customers.

This is why we recently launched an inclusive tourism toolkit on our industry website,, and delivered a project, in partnership with AccessAble, to create ‘Detailed Access Guides’ for 100 accommodation providers, and attractions.

AccessAble’s qualified surveyors assessed the businesses across Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire, Edinburgh & Lothians, Fife, Dundee and Angus, and the South of Scotland, before creating the guides. These are now housed on the AccessAble website and mobile app, which is accessed by 5 million users across the UK, and on the businesses listing our consumer website,

Focusing on customer service is another cost-effective change which can have a positive impact. A survey of users, carried out by accessibility review website, Euan's Guide, found that 77% agreed staff training increases a venue’s accessibility.

Just look at the work of the Glasgow Science Centre which recently picked up the Inclusive Tourism Award in the West of Scotland Thistle Awards last month.

Judges praised the centre for embedding equality, diversity, and inclusion throughout the organisation, from staffing to customer service.

It is just one of many tourism businesses who are ensuring that our famous Scottish welcome is an inclusive one.

You can find our Inclusive Tourism toolkit here:

Marina Di Duca is VisitScotland’s Inclusive Tourism Manager