A Halifax travel blogger who uses a motorized wheelchair says the tourism industry needs to become more accessible for people with disabilities, and he's hoping upcoming policy discussions will lead to those improvements.
Kevin Penny, who is also an accessibility advocate, has been travelling for almost 30 years and he often runs into challenges on flights and in hotels.
He said mobility aids like wheelchairs are often damaged when they're stored with luggage on airplanes, and hotel rooms are often advertised as fully accessible but that's not always the case.
Penny said he has seen some improvements to policy over the years, but it hasn't been enough.
"When it comes to actually executing … it just seems to be really challenging and nothing seems to be really moving forward, even though there's people advocating for change," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning Halifax on Wednesday.
Kevin Penny, who uses a motorized wheelchair, is a travel blogger and accessibility advocate based in Halifax. (CBC)
Penny will be part of three planning sessions hosted by Dalhousie University's MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance this fall, which will explore the tourism industry and how it can better support people with disabilities during their travels.
The sessions are closed to the public, with the first happening Thursday.
Kevin Quigley, principal investigator on the project and director of the MacEachen Institute, said about 25 people have been invited to participate, including academics, tourism association representatives, disabilities advocates and people with lived experience.
"We're inviting them there to tell us what their experiences are, what the different futures could look like and then what are sensible policies that we can encourage government and industry to adopt and how we would do that," Quigley told Information Morning.
He said it will be important to examine physical barriers, systemic barriers, information and attitudes.
Penny said changing people's attitudes toward accessibility will be key, because there needs to be a will to make changes, both from the government and the public.
"The amount of enjoyment and mental well-being that I've had from being able to travel and see our world is unbelievable," he said.
"So hopefully those attitudes will change and we'll be able to move forward and hopefully make travelling more accessible in the very near future."
After the three planning sessions, the briefing notes and research will be shared among policymakers and findings will be shared with the public in the new year.
Nova Scotia has been working to become fully accessible by 2030 since the province introduced the Accessibility Act in 2017.
It requires accessibility standards to be developed and implemented in all sectors, including the tourism industry.
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