Moors Valley Country Park and Forest near Ringwood, has been officially recognised for the excellence of its efforts to break down barriers to inclusion by being awarded Gold in the Access and Inclusivity category of the 2016 Dorset Tourism Awards.
The award recognises a business that can demonstrate exceptional customer service to all, particularly those with impairments and other access needs, including mobility, auditory, sensory or dietary.
“Over the last few years we have increased our focus on improving access to the Park and across all our activities and it is incredibly satisfying to see this work rewarded with this accolade”, said Team Leader Clare Gronow.
“A large and diverse site such as Moors Valley poses a host of challenges beyond those faced by many other tourism operations. The drive to ensure access and inclusivity for all is an ongoing process and real improvement only comes through embedding the principles of access and inclusivity in everything we do. However, by designating one of our Rangers as an Accessibility Champion, and by working with community groups in the area, we have tried to identify and tackle the issues that can prevent full participation in everything that the Park has to offer.
“In addition to our existing facilities, we are working on a range of access improvements that we hope to be able to implement in the coming months. These include changes to the website design to make it easier for people with visual impairments, introducing audio transcripts of web pages, producing BSL signed video guides and updates and improvements to our accessibility guide. Staff training and promotional material are also under review.
“We will continue to analyse each aspect of our operation to see what we can do to make sure that everyone, regardless of any limitation they may have, can enjoy Moors Valley to the full.”
Moors Valley welcomes over 750,000 visitors every year and offers an unrivalled combination of outdoor leisure, wildlife and health activities in a safe environment. Management and staff work hard to remove barriers to participation so that everyone, regardless of age, ability or background, can enjoy the many activities on offer.
In the past year, Moors Valley has hosted a disabled access day when people could try out some of the accessible equipment and activities on offer. Since entering the award, the Park has also undertaken an access and inclusivity audit using an independent specialist and will be implementing their recommendations over the coming months.
In addition to scooping a Gold award for Access and Inclusivity, the Park also received a Gold for Sustainable Tourism underlining its efforts to minimise the potential negative impact that such a large operation can have on the environment.