HUNDREDS OF businesses across Scotland have signed up for a training programme aimed at improving tourism services for guests with extra needs, the Scottish Government has claimed.
Tourism minister Fergus Ewing said the online training programme - funded with £45,000 of government cash - had been helping staff working in hotels, bed and breakfasts and restaurants across the country.
The free course aims to give tourism workers the skills they need to help visitors with special requirements, such as disable people, the elderly and families with young children.
Mr Ewing said: “In June I launched VisitScotland’s accessible tourism online training programme, which aims to improve accessibility.
“This will help achieve tourism industry growth and boost the wider economy.
“It is important that Scotland’s tourism industry has a clear business model geared to deal with those guests that have additional needs and provides the training on how to respond to individual customers.
“The Scottish Government provided £45,000 towards producing the online training programme, which is clearly helping staff who work in hotels, B&Bs, restaurants - generally all those who serve the public.”
Meanwhile, tourist body VisitScotland has provided training to 80 volunteers who will help the elderly, disabled and others with special access needs at the Ryder Cup golf tournament at Gleneagles.
Mr Ewing said: “I am pleased that Ryder Cup Europe has worked closely with the Scottish Government and VisitScotland to ensure that a comprehensive accessibility policy is in place for this week’s Ryder Cup.”
Chris McCoy, VisitScotland accessible tourism Scotland project manager, said: “2014 is the year we welcome the world and we want to make sure everybody receives the same warm Scottish welcome, whether it’s at a large-scale event such as the Ryder Cup or a small visitor attraction, venue or hotel.
“However, we know that poor customer service and a lack of accurate information are among the most common barriers facing visitors with access needs.
“This programme is designed to help equip employees and managers with the skills and knowledge they may need to welcome all visitors, regardless of their access needs.
“We hope through innovative online tools such as this we can position Scotland as a country with world-class accessible tourism facilities, offering more choice as well as excellent customer service.”