Is it easier to be a hotel guest in Sweden?
For people with disabilities, yes. According to Magnus Berglund, accessibility ambassador in Scandic, hotels should be accessible to everyone, and since the market of travelers with disabilities is large, hotels worldwide have to learn how to welcome travelers of all physical and mental abilities. Scandic’s successful work within accessibility has attracted global attention by bringing home the gold medal of being the best hotel chain in the world, when it comes to accessibility, and when Singapore’s third, five-year Enabling Masterplan is being drawn to guide the development of policies and services, they can collect a lot of inspiration from Scandic.
The Enabling Masterplan 2012-2016 in Singapore seeks to build on the foundation laid by earlier initiatives and adopts a life-course approach for persons with disabilities. It starts with the early pre-school years, going on to the education and employment phase of life, then the adult and ageing years, and also; accessibility in hotels.
This plan aims to create an inclusive Singapore where persons with disabilities can maximise their potential and are embraced as an integral part of our society.
In Singapore, new hotels and those undergoing major renovations must have one accessible room for every 100 rooms, and one in every 50 rooms should have elderly-friendly features such as grab bars in toilets. But Disabled People’s Association executive director Marissa Lee Medjeral-Mills said the number of accessible rooms is “still too low”, since around a billion people, or 15 per cent of the world’s population, have a disability.
Magnus Berglund is one of them. He worked in Scandic in Sweden as a chef, but was recognized with rheumatism in 1998, a disorder which impacts muscle tissues and joints. He returned to Scandic after 5 years of medical leave to persuade Scandic to improve accessibility, as it made good business sense.
“We’ve seen people book our hotels for conferences because of the accessibility. One wheelchair user can influence the venue choice for 400 other delegates,” he said.
It is not necessarily huge changes needed to make life easier for everyone; it can be something as simple as placing the TV remote control at the bedside table, rather than on top of the TV sets, or not to place cups on high shelves in restaurants. An able-bodied guest is unlikely to notice, but these are some of the accessibility features for guests using wheelchairs. And the small improvements are welcomed by everyone.
“All of the enhancements we’re making do not simply profit friends with disabilities. Comforts, comparable to distant controls, have been initially designed to assist the disabled, however that does not cease everybody else from with the ability to profit,” says Magnus Berglund.
Scandic has gained a number of worldwide awards for its accessibility work. Scandic is believed to be the primary lodge chain on the earth to have accessibility info on every of its 230 resorts in seven European nations on the lodges’ respective web sites.
Mr Abhimanyau Pal, executive director of SPD which helps people with disabilities in Singapore, said the accessible tourism market is growing. “With the elderly being more affluent and well-travelled, it could be a viable business proposition to cater to the needs of these holidaymakers,” he said.
Sources: www.csr.com, www.sgenable.sg, www.straitstimes.com