The Thompson Okanagan is committed to becoming a world-renowned accessible destination. The goal is to promote full inclusion and accessibility in all aspects of community and tourism. This includes all experiences, products and services in the Thompson Okanagan region. This work is in line with and inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal ten (Reduced Inequalities) and eleven (Sustainable Cities & Communities), as well as others. This month, we are highlighting the Biosphere Committed Entities that are leaders in accessibility.
Leaders in Biosphere
Highlights of businesses committed to the Biosphere Adhesion Program
OGOPOGO TOURS is a thought and action leader for inclusive and accessible tours in the Okanagan. As North America’s first Biosphere Industry, they aim to ensure universal access at all levels of the tourism value chain. This includes a sightseeing and wine tour van with an electric platform lift, high ceilings to allow guests to stand straight, and centre aisle seating for easy boarding and exit. They strive for inclusivity for all. This is reflected in their hiring and training practices, respect for local cultures, and company culture. Read more
The Adams River Salmon Society encourages the conservation of the natural and cultural resources of Tsútswecw Provincial Park (formally Roderick Haig-Brown Park). They work closely with BC Parks, promoting the initiatives that integrate the entire population of the destination. As an example, the society helps showcase Shuswap Trailriders’ newest adaptive hiking tool for people with mobility challenges. They encourage embracing indigenous culture by promoting the first story trail that shares the Secwepemctsin language. Read more
One of Tourism Kelowna’s sustainability goals is to promote Kelowna as a top tourist destination for people with different and unique abilities, both physical and cognitive. We work with our stakeholders, restaurants, hotels, stores, attractions, and wineries to make sure they are wheelchair accessible, so all visitors can enjoy and experience a fully inclusive and barrier-free vacation.
Some of Tourism Kelowna’s accessible stakeholders that we work with are the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Simplex Sportszone, Axe Monkeys, H20 Adventure & Fitness Centre, Quails Gate Winery, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, and House of Rose Winery. This is by no means an all-inclusive list. Read more
Global Biosphere Example
The Municipality of Arona, a community in the south island of Tenerife, is a Biosphere Certified Destination that has won various awards for its efforts in making the destination fully inclusive and accessible. Locals and visitors can find various accessible transportation options, such as adapted self-driving cars and wheelchair-accessible taxis. Arona is also renowned for their beautiful and fully inclusive beaches. Playa de las Teresitas has many accessible parking lots, accessible restrooms and showers and access ramps that greet all visitors. Arona has a history of creating accessible spaces dating back to the 1960s and continues to lead global efforts for a fully inclusive experience. Read more
Welcome Newly Committed Entities
Sorrento Retreat and Conference Centre
Poplar Grove Winery
Okanagan Lavender Herb Farm
Four Points by Sheraton Kelowna Airport
The Harvest Golf Club
Monte Creek Ranch Winery
There are many community and tourism organizations in the Thompson Okanagan that embody SDG #10 in their everyday practices. Below are some successful examples of accessible practices that businesses can learn and apply in order to influence and create a fully inclusive experience.
1. Ensure everyone feels welcomed and supported
- Provide adaptive equipment for people with mobility challenges
- Ensure wheelchair accessible washroom facilities are available, parking spaces, campsites, access to trails & natural areas, etc.
2. Don’t assume, ASK & LISTEN
- Collect feedback from ALL consumers to understand what is important to them
- Encourage dialogue and don’t be afraid to ask questions
- A friendly positive attitude goes a long way
3. Educate employees and all stakeholders
- Employee training: SuperHost Service for All training
- Promote accessible activities in your region: Tourism Kamloops and Accessible Adventures & Tourism Kelowna’s Accessible Kelowna
4. Contact your regional Accessibility Specialist for support
- Request an accessibility site visit
Do you have any story related with Accessibility?
We would like to hear your experience with accessibility in Thompson Okanagan.
- Do you know any organizations that are paying special attention on increasing their accessibility?
- Does your organization promote/participate in accessibility-related activities?
Please click on the link below to share your accessibility story with us.