Disabled tours want more access
A DISIBILITY service provider has taken aim at access restrictions for the disabled to local gems like Teewah, Double Island Point and Fraser Island.
Mark Collett of Daydream Explorers said people can visit these beautiful coast areas from all around the world without impediment "unless they have a physical restriction".
Mr Collett said he has been battling authorities for two years to gain better access for a what should be a wonderful wilderness experience for all.
"I just don't see the logic in denying me access, when all the other service providers don't cater for people with disabilities," he said.
Mr Collett, who is accredited with the NDIS program, said he was being excluded under a quota system of operators in these areas because he is classified as a tour guide service.
"My point to them is, 'hey, I'm not a tour guide, I support people with disabilities' - my truck has its own personal care station.TDihe (tour) capacity has reached maximum, and my argument's been could it reach maximum when none of the existing service providers or existing tour guides cater for disability?"
Mr Collett said under commercial operator's licence, he is allowed to make 10 trips a year only to Fraser Island. He said accessible travel is perhaps the travel industry's greatest untapped opportunity with "huge potential for more growth".
"In Australia, around $8 billion a year is spent by travellers with disabilities," Mr Collett said.
Mr Collett said he has had plenty of interest from Noosa people with disability keen to use his service.
"It's a lifestyle experience and that's what NDIS is all about," he said.
"Instead of them going into four walls and having three cups of tea thrown at them every day, we're doing something different and vibrant and back to nature."
An Environment Department spokeswoman said Daydream Explorers' circumstances have been considered by the department, and based on the information provided by its proprietor, the department considers this business to be a commercial activity.
"Representatives from the department are always happy to work with all of our commercial operators and we regularly liaise with the operator of Daydream Explorers,” she said.
"Daydream Explorers has a current permit to undertake commercial activities in certain protected areas.
"Regarding K'gari (Fraser Island), the conduct of commercial tourism operations was prescribed as a commercial activity in January 2015. As such, commercial guided tour operations can only be authorised under a commercial activity agreement following an expression of interest process.”
She said an alternative is for an operator to apply for a commercial activity permit which can allow up to 10 commercial guided tours per year on K'gari.