Monday, February 26, 2024

NSW-first wheelchair balloon to soar over Cessnock

A wheelchair accessible hot air balloon will soon grace the skies above Cessnock Local Government Area (LGA), Cessnock City Council has announced.

The first of its kind in NSW, the hot air balloon will provide wheelchair users and those with reduced mobility the opportunity to experience ballooning in the picturesque Hunter Valley.

Cessnock City Council Mayor, Jay Suvaal said he was looking forward to seeing the initiative take off in the Cessnock LGA.

“The idea behind this project is to increase the number of inclusive adventure tourism options on offer in the Cessnock LGA, which will also bring more visitors to our area,” Mayor Suvaal said.

“The other amazing thing about this accessible hot air balloon is that people with disability and reduced mobility can enjoy the experience with their family and friends as it will fit up to eight people.”

The specifically designed balloon basket has an access door, seat, and harness to ensure patrons with various mobility considerations are safe and secure during the flight.

To ensure the experience is inclusive at every point, Council says a wheelchair accessible mini bus will transport passengers directly to their accessible hot air balloon flight.

The accessible hot air balloon flights will be operated by Balloon Aloft, an iconic Hunter Valley experience operator who has been delivering Australia’s best balloon flights for over 40 years.

This project was made possible with a $341,249 grant under the Regional Tourism Activation Fund (RTAF).

The $30 million RTAF provided by the NSW Government will accelerate the development of new and enhanced tourism infrastructure providing visitors with unique and high impact experiences while visiting regional NSW.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Taylor Martin said the Regional Tourism Activation Fund is helping to establish unique tourism experiences that attract visitors and showcase the outstanding assets our regions have to offer. 

“Projects backed through the Regional Tourism Activation Fund will give domestic and international visitors more great reasons to holiday away from the city,” Mr Martin said. 

“We are ensuring everyone has the opportunity to experience our regional communities, with funding to support accessibility and inclusion improvements.”

The RTAF provides support to projects that improve accessibility and inclusion and enhance the visitor experience.

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