BTA: More Accessible To People With Disabilities

May 7, 2019

A working group of diverse Bermudians brought together by the National Tourism Plan is developing a strategy to make Bermuda more accessible to people with disabilities.

The goal is to release the strategy to the public this fall and motivate the country to execute it in time for the World Triathlon Grand Final in October 2021.

The two-year deadline is significant because Bermuda will welcome a number of triathletes in 2020 and 2021 who have visual impairments or use a mobility device like a wheelchair. Two teams from the 2019 MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda have already been interviewed by the working group as part of its fact-finding research.

“Our approach is to leverage the triathlon events to focus the country’s attention on solving a longstanding deficiency in our infrastructure. And once the triathlon is over, Bermuda should have the legacy benefit of a more accessible society—for residents and travellers,” said MP Tinee Furbert, the chairperson of the Accessibility Working Group and a long-time advocate for persons with disabilities.

Team Ladybugs competing in MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda last month

WTS Team Ladybugs Bermuda April 2019

With the help of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the Accessibility Working Group will survey the island’s hotels and restaurants this month to better understand the current state of affairs as it relates to accessibility.

The surveys will reveal how many local establishments are appropriately outfitted to welcome differently abled customers today and allow the working group to set a target for how many accessible visitor establishments the island should strive for by 2021.

In addition to hotels and restaurants, there’s a plan to conduct an inventory review of transport and vacation rentals, attractions and excursions.

The infrastructure pillar of the National Tourism Plan highlighted high numbers of mobility challenged visitors arriving each year by cruise ship who look to spend money on-island but have limited options for transport and attractions.

Research also suggested potential air visitors are likely avoiding Bermuda for fear of difficulty getting around. The National Tourism Plan aims to make the island more attractive to this audience by making it more frictionless and thus easier to experience.

“As we focus the industry’s attention on accessibility, we really want our stakeholders to understand that a more accessible visitor infrastructure equals more visitors,” said Glenn Jones, chief experience development officer at the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

“If local businesses lay out the welcome mat for this audience they will come, they will spend money and they will bring their families. But if there are barriers to a good experience for one member of the family in a wheelchair, the whole family chooses to go elsewhere.”

The Bermuda Tourism Authority plans to use the survey results of the working group to highlight accessible establishments more clearly on the website and in other marketing materials. Additionally, BTA officials revised plans at the Hamilton Visitor Services Centre to ensure all three levels were fully accessible to visitors via a ramp and elevator.

Accessibility Working Group Vice Chairperson Keith Simmons said: “While part of our mission is to define where the issues are, we will spend an equal amount of time on solutions.

“Oftentimes a solution is less costly than business owners think and can generate more revenue for them once the improvements are in place. We will work hard to find those kinds of solutions to make it easier for business owners to say yes to accessibility.”

Removing barriers for the mobility challenged also improves the experience for families with strollers, whether they travelled here on vacation or are residents. Since the National Tourism Plan projects significant growth in the number of “active family” visitors by 2025, improving the accessibility of the island’s infrastructure is an investment in the future for more than one audience.

The Bermuda’s National Tourism Plan 2019-2025 follows below [PDF here]:

click here banner Bermuda tourism

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Comments (25)

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  1. LaVerne Furbert says:

    Yet, I and and others who lobbied for Shelly Bay Beach to be accessible to all were demonized by the BTA and others.

    • It’s not about you always says:

      this a just and honest development for the good of our tourism product and our visitors who face physical challenges but who still are brave enough to make a journey to visit our shores.

      In fact full marks yet again to the BTA. This is stuff the GVT Ministry of Tourism should have been doing instead of letting black Lincoln town cars sit curb site in NY waiting for important people to come out of their meetings which didn’t advance Bermuda’s tourism product one bit.

      And Shelly Bay team congrats you got what you wanted.

      Ms Furbert not sure what you are on about here.

      • Cheryl-Ann Griffin says:

        Making Shelly Bay accessible was good for our tourism product also.Yet we were maligned and insulted by The BTA and others. It seems that the BTA did not care about residents and accessibility to the beaches. It seems that others may have insulted us because we were not ‘a group of DIVERSE Bermudians’.

        • question says:

          You were not ‘maligned and insulted by the BTA’. Stop making things up and trying to appear you’re the victim. You stopped development of Shelly Bay in its tracks and got your own way. BFD. That doesn’t qualify you for sainthood.

          Interesting how you disparage the idea of diversity. Typical hypocrisy.

        • LaV says:

          ” It seems that others may have insulted us because we were not ‘a group of DIVERSE Bermudians’.”

          Yes, we took our cue from YOU!

        • truthertz says:

          You were not maligned for the accessibility initiative.

          Stop rewriting history.

        • Toodle-oo says:

          How many times (3 so far ) are you going to say you were maligned and insulted ? How many more times are you going to make ridiculous and untrue comments about not being part of some ‘diverse group’ ? As if we don’t know what your favorite topic is . This isn’t the place for it lady.
          And does anyone believe that the central issue was really anything at all to do with handicap accessibility ?
          Like someone else said , stop trying to re-write history.

          • Cheryl-Ann Griffin says:

            As many times as it takes for the reality to sink in.

            • lav says:

              You have to repeat a lie as many times as you can, in order to convince your followers that you did something good…even though we all know your true motive.

    • Question says:

      You of all people should take no credit for anyone being nice to minorities. We know what you’re like.

  2. What says:

    Don’t worry girlfriend we are bringing the raft up to Shelley Bay and will show you how we real Bermudians party hard!

    • Raft up for Shelly Bay Beach says:

      That is an awesome idea. This group of people think they own the beach. SBB is for eveyone not just Miss Furbert, Griffen and Minister Furbert’s supporters.

      Its all of ours!!!

  3. Gerry Collins says:

    Sorry, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Making a few changes here and there isn’t good enough. We need to make it and enforceable LAW that requires every business and attraction to be accessible, and enforce compliance with handicapped parking rules. That’s something which has been an absolute joke. It’s great to see an MP sit in a wheelchair in Hamilton once a year to show they care, but unless you live in one like I do, and try to get around the island, you can’t understand. Oh, and putting a handicapped sticker on a lavatory door doesn’t mean it’s accessible. There’s got to be room for a large chair to maneuver in there! Please govmint, make it happen for real this time!

  4. Momma says:

    It would be wonderful to have more stuff accessible for the handicapped and the momma’s with babies in strollers etc.

  5. Cheryl-Ann Griffin says:

    Making Shelly Bay accessible was good for our tourism product also.Yet we were maligned and insulted by The BTA and others. It seems that the BTA did not care about residents and accessibility to the beaches. It seems that others may have insulted us because we were not ‘a group of DIVERSE Bermudians’.

    • Don’t worry says:

      Aww go hug a beach! And shut up! It’s my beach too and I want a restaurant and burger joint there!

  6. Cheryl-Ann Griffin says:

    It was a just and honest proposal put forth by the group from Shelly Bay also.We knew that making Shelly Bay accessible was good for our tourism product also. Yet we were maligned and insulted by The BTA and others. The BTA didn’t care about accessibility for residents or visitors merely less than a year ago. It seems that others may have insulted us because we were not a group of DIVERSE Bermudians, nor did we, ‘ a bunch of Old Bermudians’ one of the names we were called, have the prestige or promotional financing of such as The WTS.

  7. Cheryl-Ann Griffin says:

    We were disparaged and insulted by The BTA and others. Who are you to say?
    And Yes, a lot of it was because we were seen as of one hue, the one that is not readily acceptable in this island and as supporting The PLP.
    It is what it is. Some people have been outright nasty over the past 3 years. Noone is ñooking for sainthood but the truth is the truth.

  8. Cheryl-Ann Griffin says:

    When you want your burger you can now use an app and have it delivered right to your towel. It is wonderful that The BTA have done an aboutface and is now embracing and sponsoring accessibility and throughout the island.
    Yes its your beach and my beach and their beach. Everyone, able and disabled, resident and visitor alike, will now be able to enjoy Shelly Bay Beach.

  9. Cheryl-Ann Griffin says:

    We welcome this announcement but at the same time the group who set forth a proposal for Shelly Bay Beach were maligned by The BTA and accused of having a culture of ‘No’. I guess they did not see the value of accessibilty for residents as well as visitors.
    In addition, i am waiting to see the comments from the regulars who didnt hesitate to call us names or question why their tax dollar would have to pay for such. The diatribe included….Gov’t needs to stop bowing to every whim; Thats all this is is politics; look at this group, a bunch of old Bermudians who are typically resistant to change; called NIMBY, textbook nimbyism, this gang of 5 thinks Shelly Bay belongs to them; Brainless people.

    • truthertz says:

      Once again you are being misleading as no one objected to the accessibility option. No one.

      You are obfuscating the facts in order to appear to be a victim. You’re not.

  10. Cheryl-Ann Griffin says:

    Right up to comments about the April 11 meeting. Where are the questions on this thread asking where the money is coming from to improve the infrastructure? Are these people being called morons? Is this venture being called bullcrap? Are the PLP just pandering to this group?
    Once again….it is wonderful that Bermuda is looking to upgrade infrastructure to accomodate persons with disabilities and i am so happy that the 4 women and one man from Shelly Bay had the vision and were the forerunners.

    • Question says:

      You weren’t the forerunners of anything. You just wanted to stop Shelley Bay from being developed. Your motives were entirely selfish.

  11. Fact Checker says:

    Turns out the concession area plans in the BTA’s original Shelly Bay submission to Planning was fully accessible. And when a small group voiced a desire for a chair accessible pathway to the ocean, the BTA said publicly in media reports that it was willing to amend its plans to include this attribute.
    That’s what happened. These facts are verifiable for anyone who would like to check them.
    Meantime, why anyone would want to prevent beach-goers, including those persons with disabilities, from having access to an Ashely’s Lemonade is beyond me.

  12. This would make sense if the BTA didn’t move the VIC off of Kings Square in the center of St. George and invest in a building owned by the private sector. On the main road of the Town across from the once 3 million dollar renovate Police Station that never reopened. You just can’t make this stuff up.