PENRITH and the Border MP, Rory Stewart has praised the work done in Eden to help disabled people enjoy activities that able-bodied tourists take for granted.
Mr Stewart, the Conservative MP for the area, helped kick-off English Tourism Week with Eden District Council's tourism team.
Statistics show that disabled people nationally contribute £2 billion to tourism annually, said Mr Stewart.
He was speaking out following what he called his 'local and national campaigns' to improve disabled access for visitors to the North Lakes - focussing on improvements at Penrith railway station.
At Ullswater on Friday, he joined Eden Mencap members and staff to highlight the important contribution visitors with disabilities make to the area’s tourism industry.
He joined the group from Penrith-based charity Eden Mencap to experience an outdoor activity session run by Eden Outdoor Adventures, rowing in a canoe with members and then accompanying them back to Pooley Bridge on board an Ullswater Steamer.
He said: “Making tourism in Eden and indeed across the UK as accessible as possible for all is vitally important for our area's tourism industry. In taking part in Eden Mencap's group activity on Ullswater I have had the pleasure of seeing people with disabilities being able to take advantage of Eden's great outdoors.
“This group's enjoyment is the tip of an iceberg - nationally some £2billion is spent by disabled people during overnight visits and repeat visits to destinations and activities are a common occurrence. It is my sincere belief that this event, which launches English Tourism Week 2014 in Eden, demonstrates powerfully that Eden and the North Pennines is a destination open to everyone and that the area's tourism operators are committed to providing the best experience for our disabled visitors. That is one reason why we have been campaigning so hard for disabled access at Penrith station."
Charlie Thornton, Eden District Council’s tourism development officer, said: “Accessible tourism is an area with so much potential for growth and development and Eden tourism operators are already tapping into this valuable and important market. EDC’s tourism team works hard to publicise organisations and companies that offer facilities for disabled visitors. As an example, our website for visitors, www.visiteden.co.uk, features a section on accessible accommodation which is well used by people booking a stay in the area.”
English Tourism Week runs from March 29-April 6 with tourism businesses being encouraged to offer a range of interesting offers.
Following the launch event, Eden Outdoor Adventures is offering a special activity session rate of £80 for half a day and £100 for a full day for two people of any ability between March 29 and April 4. (For larger groups please add £10 per extra person).
For more information, visit www.edenoutdooradventures.co.uk