Scotland’s Capital has been selected as the host city for the prestigious Rehabilitation International 23rd World Congress (R.I. World Congress) in October 2016. Bringing over 1,000 delegates to Edinburgh and with an estimated economic impact of over £2million, the four-day event will play a crucial role in cementing Edinburgh’s reputation as an accessible destination that welcomes disabled and disadvantaged visitors.
Jointly led by Convention Edinburgh and host venue, the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), the winning bid not only showcased the city’s strong business tourism offering, but ensured the Edinburgh’s accessible credentials were at its core. From Edinburgh’s transport providers and its compact size, to the considered approach to accessibility by the EICC and city businesses, Rehabilitation International leaders agreed Edinburgh was the best fit for its conference and delegates’ needs.
Roy O'Shaughnessy, Chief Executive of Shaw Trust and organisers of the R.I. World Congress 2016, said: “Shaw Trust is delighted to host the 2016 R.I. World Congress. As a country, Scotland is committed to equality, tackling social exclusion head on. Edinburgh was the natural choice to hold an international conference which promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities. For example, Edinburgh’s Trams and easy access buses offer accessible transport links will make it easier for delegates with limited mobility to attend the congress.
“The event is a unique opportunity to build a stronger international coalition aimed at eradicating socioeconomic barriers and promoting independence. It will open a crucial dialogue between world leaders on how to improving the lives of people with disabilities.” VisitScotland currently estimate ‘Accessible Tourism’ market spend in Scotland to be worth £1.5billion, generating 29million day trips per year. It is a crucial market for both leisure and business tourism, yet often overlooked by businesses.
Preparation for the R.I. World Congress 2016 is also providing the perfect opportunity for tourism leaders to work with Edinburgh businesses to enable greater understanding of the small changes and considerations, often easily implemented, that can have a dramatic impact on the accessibility of a venue or attraction.
Marshall Dallas, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, host venue for the R.I. World Congress said: “We’re excited to welcome the Rehabilitation International World Congress to the EICC in October and to showcase our world-class facilities to an international audience. It was key to the bid that our accessibility credentials reached the standards expected by the organisers and the specific requirements of the event.
“Bringing a prestigious conference like this to Edinburgh is testament to the collaboration that has taken place and how highly rated our city is, both in terms of the attraction of Edinburgh itself and the conference experience we offer to delegates."
Lesley Williams, Head of Business Tourism at Convention Edinburgh said: “Collaboration, hard work and enthusiasm have brought the R.I. World Congress to Edinburgh. Crucially the conference will have a lasting impact on Edinburgh’s offering. Not only building awareness of its existing, strong accessibility credentials, but raising the bar even higher.”
Chris McCoy, Head of the Accessible Tourism Programme, at VisitScotland said: “VisitScotland is delighted to be involved in the preparations to welcome the R.I. World Congress to Edinburgh. This is a great opportunity for Edinburgh to showcase how accessible the city can become, and VisitScotland is committed to supporting and helping businesses in the city to prepare for the conference in 2016. This will become a vital part of VisitScotland’s overall accessible tourism programme of work for the next two to three years.”
2014/15 was a record year for Convention Edinburgh. Working with its members, the organisation secured 208 new conference bid wins for the city, expected to attract over 65,000 delegates and create an estimated £91.5m to the local economy.