Let's make New Zealand 100% accessible

June 2017

Last month my colleagues and I had the privilege of meeting Prime Minister Bill English to lay out the case for a 100% accessible New Zealand. This is the dream on which Be. Accessible is founded, and every year since we started in 2011, we have been moving New Zealand’s businesses, public spaces, infrastructure, workers and employers closer to that ultimate goal.

Our message to the Prime Minister was simple: help us reframe the thinking away from disability, cost and burden, towards possibility, investment and opportunity. We introduced him to the Be. Lab, which is at the heart of our five-year strategy to create the centre of access innovation in the world – the go-to place for business, government and community seeking access solutions, analyzing research and data through the accessibility index, bringing together the best minds of every generation on world-leading social innovation projects.

The Prime Minister – not surprising for a former Minister of Finance – was especially interested in the data, such as our analysis of the number of tertiary students with access needs entering employment, and in the huge economic opportunities in accessibility. 

Get familiar with a new phrase: access tourism. It refers to opening New Zealand up to domestic and international tourists who can have a complete and amazing experience in our country regardless of age or ability. The rising baby boomer population is by now an article of faith, but the access traveller market is already 25% of all tourist traffic to New Zealand! (This lines up with the proportion of New Zealand residents with access needs, as per to the 2013 Census.)

Make no mistake – designing New Zealand to service the access traveller isn't just based on "doing the right thing", but also on measurable economic benefits. The total annual disposable income of the global access traveller population is calculated at US$8 trillion[1] , and international research show that 50% of global access citizens would travel more if they could be sure of facilities at each destination[2]. This is not just about being a tourist-friendly nation but one in which every would-be visitor can experience a 100% accessible New Zealand, from the moment they go online to begin their research.

We've seen what happens when a brand position such as '100% Pure New Zealand' isn't supported by real-life industrial, corporate or consumer behaviour. Together, we can make '100% Accessible New Zealand' not just a slogan, but a shining global example, like women’s suffrage – this is how it's done. Follow our lead. It is 100% possible!



1 Ref:; The Global Economics of Disability, Fifth Quadrant Analytics, 3 April 2013
2 Ref:; Lonely Planet: “Travel for All: join Lonely Planet's accessible travel project” Published December 2013