A recent article on the US website RV Daily speculated that RV parks, campgrounds or outdoor recreation facilities in the US could generate a 10 to 30 percent growth per year by improving accessibility for the disabled. It suggested that depending on the investment and using tax incentive available in the US the improvement often pay for itself in just the first year.
The research was championed by Mark Douglas founder of the RV Accessibility Group who was temporarily in a wheelchair and found that his favorite campsite could no longer accommodate him. Since his recovery Douglas has taken it upon himself to educate US campsite and RV parks who he believes have been ignoring an untapped market until now.
Douglas`s suggestion to caravan parks is to get proactive and get out in front of government regulation in order to attract disabled or just less abled guests. It`s not just about being socially conscious
But are there really that many disabled people looking to camp?
The answer is yes and no, but the American math seems to translate into Australia.
According to a report by Queensland Tourism it is a myth that the disabled don`t spend as much as the mainstream market on tourism. In fact they spend about the same amount as other Australians but for wheelchair bound travelers the choices are narrowed down to hotels and motels because of better disabled facilities.
However, the real cash cow could be increasing the duration of the stays of grey nomads who while not disabled, may gradually be experiencing less mobility such as slight arthritis, back pain or even just swollen legs. These retirees potentially stay longer periods of time and spend more than mainstream tourists such as families and backpackers.
Fixtures and fittings such as wide doors, bathrooms with railing and plastic stools and easy turn facets are useful to those with mild accessibility problems. Even ramps into laundries or around the camp can help an elderly caravan enthusiast pull their heavy loads in a trolley or wheelie bags rather than carrying it in a bag over their shoulder or back.
Adapting disabled facilities is Cheaper than you think
Mark Douglas in his talks to US RV park owners says that adapting disabled facilities doesn`t have to done in one expensive paid-upfront project. He suggest that the cash strapped park owners set a long term plan for full accessibility for the disabled to be implement gradually over a few years. Many adaptions are quite simple and can be done simultaneously with usually maintenance work.
Here is a quick list of the basics:
- Make doorways into facilities wide enough for wheelchair access and level.
- Equip toilets and showers with grab rails
- Provide shower seats, even if it`s just a cheap plastic stool
- Use non-slip surfaces
- Replace old stiff tapes with easy open taps and handles
- Have lots of smooth surfaces for trolleys and wheelie cases
- Make doorways into facilities wide enough for wheelchair access and level.Equip toilets and showers with grab rails Provide shower seats, even if it`s just a cheap plastic stool Use non-slip surfaces Replace old stiff tapes with easy open taps and handlesHave lots of smooth surfaces for trolleys and wheelie cases