Sanitation and the purple pound

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If disabled visitors can pee and poo, the purple pound will come to you.

It’s that simple.


Sanitation is possibly the most overlooked provision that can bring profits down and decrease the number of visitors you will attract.

When asked what is the biggest factor that would prevent or deter you from visiting an attraction – disabled people generally say it’s the toilet facilities that influence their decision the most.

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A toilet that fails disabled people

Let’s face it – would you visit somewhere for the day that had no toilets?

We need to remember that an ‘accessible toilet’ that is not usable (or doesn’t have the full compliment of access features for people with different needs) can be regarded as absent.

Your toilet is as good as absent if:

  • it is poorly signposted. If you can’t find it when you need to – it might as well not be there.
  • locked (aside NKS keys)
  • has the wrong fixtures and fittings
  • poorly maintained (dangerous, wrong flooring, poor illumination, wet etc)
  • cluttered or being used as storage space
  • Does not have the full range of access features needed by visitors – would you know what makes a toilet usable for all?

I have been to 14 places of interest in the past year (Museums, gardens, historical buildings, wildlife parks/zoos, heritage railways) for days out.  Being passionate about sanitation, I looked in every ‘accessible toilet’ on all but one site  – not a single one met the full access requirements as detailed in the current building regulations for a new toilet.

In other words, they all had elements which would have made them unusable for people with particular needs.

Only 2 had a hoist for people who can not raise themselves out of a wheelchair onto a toilet, and only 1 had an adult changing bench for those who need a pad change.

I have what is required by law.

This may be true in respect of building regulations – but the Equality Act 2010 requires equality of sanitation provision for disabled people. (See our free guides for information)

To fail to bring your facilities up to the most recent standards gives a strong message that disabled people and their friends and families are not welcome. You are not interested in supporting social inclusion and are not interested in taking your share of the purple pound.

What is the Purple Pound?

The purple pound is money that disabled people and those that come with them (e.g. family, friends etc) have to spend on tourism.

  • In 2013, 20% of all Tourism Day Visits in England included someone with a health condition/impairment. That’s a spend of £9.4 billion.
  • Over 500,000 people each year visit England from abroad, who also have a health condition or impairment – worth £341 million.

In total – disabled people and companions are spending £12.4 billion pounds a year within tourism.

Why would you not want some of this money?

The quality and standard of your toilet provision says a lot about you. Get it wrong and it’s going to cost you money and your reputation.

Written for World Tourism Day 2015:  http://wtd.unwto.org

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