The Purple Pound – Inclusive & Accessible Tourism

Accessibility. The ‘Purple Pound’.  Accessible Tourism. Should you, as a visitor economy business, be interested about any of these things? Well read on and find out….

Would you like customers who tend to stay longerspend morerepeat visit and bring you the best kind of marketing; word of mouth recommendation? Of course you would! And what if this was a growing market? And that by catering for these customers you were also meeting your legal requirements and let’s cut to it; your social responsibility? Not to mention differentiating yourself from your competition. Even better, h’mm?

Well then you need to be looking at attracting The Purple Pound.

The what?” you say?

The ‘Purple Pound’ is an umbrella term incorporating a market of people with physical disabilities, sight loss, hearing, autism and dementia and the spending power of these people. In the same way that the ‘Pink Pound’ (or ‘Dorothy Dollar’ in the US of A) is the LGBT market, or the ‘Silver’ or ‘Grey’  Pound’ is the older people market.

The Purple Pound is a market worth £12bn. That’s Billion. One of its key concerns is accessibility. Note we’re not saying disability here. Access and accessibility is for all, able-bodied or not.

Here’s some facts n’ figures. I know, I know, argh dull, dull, dull. Except these are not. Don’t switch off, take a look and you’ll really begin to see why you should be interested in The Purple Pound. And why that if you’re not interested, you’re going to be excluding a growing number of potentially very loyal repeat customers. And why other businesses who are more interested than you are could be reaping benefits that you’re not.

Research shows us that:

  • 1 in 5 people have access issues
  • By 2051 24% of the population will be aged 65+ with an impairment of some kind. Make no mistake, this is a growing market due to the aging population and increased life expectancy. Age equates to accessibility issues. We’re all going to be living longer, having more aches and pains and more things going wrong with us. However this doesn’t mean we still won’t want to go out and enjoy ourselves
  • 20% of day trips and 14% of overnight trips include a person with an impairment. £12bn is spent on trips where a member of the party has an impairment; £8.5bn on day trips, £3.2bn on overnight stays and £0.3 bn on inbound tourism.
  • Despite this, 1 in 10 people haven’t taken a trip due to accessibility issues. That’s 430,000 British adults, which equates to £116.7m lost. Simply put, people “won’t go if they don’t know” what to expect.
  • And in a survey of 500 businesses 40% of businesses haven’t considered accessibility. Have you? 10 % think it’s too much hassle. Do you?


So, why should you as a business target the accessible tourism and the Purple Pound? Here are some great reasons:

  • Increased occupancy/covers.
  • Enhanced reputation
  • Repeat business. People with access issues tend stay longer, spend more and when they have found somewhere they like that can accommodate their needs; return there.
  • Increased profits
  • Meeting legal obligations (Equality Act 2010)
  • Differentiation (not that many places are accessible or if they are, have compiled an Accessibility Guide to show it)
  • Improved welcome
  • Increase your off peak business
  • Future proof your business (an aging population means increasing accessibility needs)
  • Competitive advantage
  • Social responsibility

Okay, you’re seeing that if nothing else, catering for the Purple Pound makes good business sense. So how do you make yourself a more accessible tourism business and target the Purple Pound?

The three pillars of Accessible Tourism are: Information and Promotion, Customer Service and Physical Facilities

Information and Promotion

As a business you need to publicise your facilities, or the lack of them. People with impairments may start from a position of thinking that they can’t go to you as a customer and yet they may want to. Therefore information (and the promotion of it, so it can be readily found) is key, even if it’s to say that you aren’t suitable for people in wheelchairs etc.

Provide enough information so that an individual can make an informed decision. A great way to do this is by creating an Accessibility Guide and then hosting it in an easily found section of your website. These guides are a description, not a judgement. They should be updated regularly and look attractive and appealing. You wouldn’t want a poor-looking website, or hard to read signage above your shop. You don’t want a tedious, dull, Accessibility Guide either. You can find a FREE online tool to create your Accessibility Guide here.

Consider it a positive and essential addition to your armoury of marketing tools and approach it with the same enthusiasm you should for any other channel you use to market your business. Remember the information in an Accessibility Guide is useful for everybody, not just those with impairments.

Customer Service

Once you’ve identified what your business can (and can’t) do/offer/has/hasn’t got and you have created an Accessibility Guide that explains this, you need to make sure any staff you have are aware of it. Appoint an Accessibility Champion – even if it’s yourself. Have an Accessibility Promise, stating your commitment to service. Aim for continuous improvement based on conversations with customers who have access issues. You’ll be learning all the time and because of this you can improve all the time, too.

Physical Facilities

Accessible Tourism and the Purple Pound is not all about ramps. Access to premises is of course a fundamental part of accessible tourism (hey, the clue’s in the name), but it is not the ‘be all and end all’ of it. Have you considered having a good contrast between the colour of your carpets and walls to help visually impaired customers, or buying digital alarm clocks with large displays so they’re easier to read? Having chairs with arms, rather than without, so people can more easily lower themselves into and raise themselves back out of them? Lower sections at your reception desks, with enough knee room for wheelchair users to be able to use your desks to sign in? Hearing loops? You can find some simple, low cost changes you could make to your business here.

Here are some links to more information about the Purple Pound from Visit England; Including the Volume & Value of the Purple Pound, Top Tips for Being Inclusive, How to Welcome people with Hearing Loss and Autism, Criteria for Accessible Accommodation and much more.

Together we can make Calderdale an Accessible Destination for all!