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Groundbreaking program makes Sunshine Coast an inclusive traveller haven

In the Year of Accessible Tourism, Spinal Life & Cérge’s Access Accelerator program to revolutionise Queensland's Accom & tourism industry

Spinal Life Australia and Cérge have announced the implementation of their groundbreaking Access Accelerator program, and one in five Australians living with a disability can now look forward to holidaying in more inclusive and accessible havens throughout Queensland

Through their successful application for the Queensland Government’s Accessible Tourism Enablers Grant under the Year of Accessible Tourism in Queensland, Spinal Life and Cérge’s Access Accelerator program is set to revolutionise the tourism industry, starting with the Sunshine Coast region, by making tourism more accessible, inclusive, and welcoming to travellers with diverse accessibility needs.

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The program aims to empower businesses and equip them with the knowledge, tools and confidence to create accessible tourism destinations through immersive disability awareness training, adoption of award-winning inclusive technology, guided access and inclusion planning, and real-life stories of inclusion experienced by customers.

Access Accelerator launch (L-R) Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stockel, Fin Coll, Cerge co-founder Victoria Kerrisk, Spinal LIfe Australia Senior Advisor – Access & Advocacy, Cerge co-founder Chris Kerrisk, Spinal Life Business Diversity and Inclusion Officer Brendan Somerville, Sunshine Coast Council Tourism Lead Amanda Fernandes and Sunshine Coast Council Community Development Officer Jane Goodwin

Visit Sunshine Coast CEO, Matt Stoeckel, expressed his full support for the Access Accelerator program and its intended delivery in the region.

He said: “As a destination, we know it’s important to be more inclusive and this is a step in the right direction. The Access Accelerator program will give tourism operators on the Sunshine Coast the tools to better cater to the accessible tourism market.

“The program will enable the participating tourism operators to better understand the accessible tourism market and improve the experience for those travelling with a disability. We are eager to work closely with Spinal Life Australia and Cérge to ensure our local tourism operators embrace accessibility and create memorable experiences for every visitor.”

Beach accessible matting at Mooloolaba Beach

Chris Kerrisk, the Co-founder of Cérge, also put forward his support for partnering with Spinal Life in the successful delivery of this program.

He said: “We are proud to be partnering with Spinal Life Australia to deliver this transformative program. Through the Access Accelerator, businesses will not only enhance their services for customers with disability but also gain a competitive edge in the growing accessible tourism market.”

The Access Accelerator program is slated to kick off in October 2023, with a series of industry-leading workshops and training sessions for participating tourism organisations to gain first-hand insight into what it may be like to have a disability.

These workshops will be spread across multiple delivery dates to accommodate business operations and staff turnover, ensuring maximum participation and impact.

Photo by Weiqi Xiong on Unsplash

Dane Cross, Senior Advisor – Access & Advocacy of Spinal Life Australia, says he is thrilled to be part of this next step in championing accessibility within tourism.

He said: “We are delighted to receive the Accessible Tourism Enablers Grant, as it reaffirms our commitment to making Queensland a leader in accessible tourism. This funding will enable us to roll out the Access Accelerator program to a diverse group of 50 tourism operators, including those on the Sunshine Coast.

“Our aim is to create inclusive destinations that set a benchmark for accessibility in Australia.”

Spinal Life Australia and Cérge extend their gratitude to the Queensland Government for recognising the importance of accessible tourism and supporting this scalable and transformative initiative. The funding success underscores the collective commitment to building a more inclusive and accessible Queensland.

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