Great Ocean Stays - Back To Back Win
Updated: May 22, 2019
Christine Smith won the Accessible Business Award for the 2nd year in a row at the Geelong Business Excellence Awards last week for her innovative Ocean Grove based
business, Great Ocean Stays, which provides purpose designed accessible accommodation and holiday experiences for people with a disability and their families. Three years ago Christine was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which changed the direction of her life and seriously threatened the viability of her business. It also left her with a disability but gave her insight into the challenges of being disabled.
In response, she re-developed her business investing over $3million dollars to target a new market opportunity, the disability tourism segment. She built 3 accessible homes in Ocean Grove with a 4th due to open in December and created a new arm to her business, Accessible Stays, a booking service promoting accessible tourism experiences.
The 2009 ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers showed that almost one in five Australians, that's four million people, have a disability. According to the National Visitor Survey 2003 (as analyzed by Darcy & Dwyer in 2008), each year 88 percent of people with a disability take a holiday, which accounts for 8.2 million overnight trips.
"If you don't have a disability, you know someone who does and with an aging population it just made really good sense to move into that space", business owner Christine Smith said. For Christine, winning the awards is about much more than the promotion of her own business. "Winning these awards has given me a platform to advocate for people with disability, to get people to pay attention," owner Christine Smith said.
Christine is a vocal advocate for disability and helps employers to see the benefits of employing people with a disability and encouraging businesses to become accessible. "If someone's building a new business in the region I would like to inspire them to think about small, often inexpensive ways of creating a more welcoming space. It just makes good business sense to be accessible to all customers".
Christine's business, Great Ocean Stays is a recognized NDIS provider. Christine has been a disability advocate through programs run by Deakin's Diversity Field Officer Program, The National Disability Co-ordinators Office and as a Board Member of Tourism Greater Geelong & the Bellarine.