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A new initiative aimed at increasing disabled visitors’ experience in Argyll is launched today (Thursday March 1).

Michael Russell MSP and The Oban Times have teamed up with disabled access review website Euan’s Guide to help Argyll businesses welcome disabled visitors.

Euan’s Guide, which aims to ‘remove the fear of the unknown’ and inspire disabled people to try new places, was founded in 2013 by brother and sister Euan and Kiki MacDonald after Euan became a powerchair user.

After spending hours of their time making enquiries about access at places they wanted to go, Euan and Kiki realised their experience was not unique and that many disabled people had difficulty in getting the information they needed to decide on where they visited and took their holidays.

The idea became Euan’s Guide, now a digital charity helping to open up countryside, villages, towns and cities to disabled people everywhere.

Michael Russell met Euan and Kiki at the Scottish Parliament last year after submitting information to the guide about some of the places he represents. After discussion he suggested they work with him and The Oban Times to make sure Argyll and Bute was doing its best to ensure maximum access for, and giving maximum information to, disabled people.

An event is being held in the Corran Halls, Oban, on Friday April 27 from 11am-1pm which will be open to local businesses, community organisations and representatives from tourist destinations throughout Argyll and Bute. Those attending will be able to find out how easy it is to sign up to Euan’s Guide and promote accessibility.

Commenting on the event, Michael Russell MSP, who will be present on the day, said: ‘I was inspired by Euan’s story and by his determination to make sure others were helped in the way he needed help but originally couldn’t find.

‘Euan and Kiki explained to me the benefits and relief from worry and stress they have experienced from knowing what to expect from a business, organisation or tourist destination in terms of accessibility before they travel there.

‘But there is also a big opportunity for tourism in Argyll and Bute because being known as disability friendly and accessible will bring a boost in business. So coming to the event, which is kindly being supported by The Oban Times, will be profitable as well as informative.’

Susan Windram, editor of The Oban Times, said: ‘When Michael approached us about holding this event, we were more than happy to support it.

‘Argyll and Bute is obviously a busy tourist destination and the more businesses can do to ensure all our visitors have a positive experience while visiting, can only be a good thing.

‘This is also an an ideal opportunity for local disability groups to come along and let businesses and community organisations know what they can do to improve facilities for disabled visitors.’

Euan’s Guide said: ‘We are delighted this event is taking place as there is a huge potential for Argyll and Bute to become a top accessible tourism destination in Scotland. The draw of its many islands and outstanding natural beauty can only be enhanced by promoting its accessible highlights to disabled visitors, whether that is accessible accommodation, wheelchair friendly boat tours, disabled access information online, clear signposting or simply a warm welcome.’

To register for the event or to obtain further information, email Heather Wolfe on Heather.Wolfe@parliament.scot or call 0131 348 5738.