From the initiative of the ONCE Foundation, the Spanish Association for Standardization (UNE) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the first working meeting for the development of an International Standard on Accessible Tourism for All was held in Madrid on 13-14 February.
The Technical Committee TC 228, responsible for tourism and related services within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), will develop a global and transversal international standard that will include, initially, a systematic inventory of existing standards, technical criteria, recommendations and requirements in the field of accessible tourism. In addition, recommendations and requirements will be suggested for those segments of the value chain and related activities whose international standardization in terms of accessibility is still pending.
The future standards will be called “ISO 21902 Tourism and related services—Tourism for all—Requirements and recommendations”. In terms of scope, the new standard will set clear guidelines for tourism planning and destination management.
According to Jesús Hernández, Director of Universal Accessibility and Innovation of the ONCE Foundation, the new standard will be “a lever to promote Design for All in such an important economic sector as tourism at the world level. In many cases persons with disabilities cannot exercise their rights to leisure and the enjoyment of culture and tourism. This is discrimination. In addition, from an economic point of view, tourism activity that is designed for all people represents a source of wealth creation”.
For his part, Márcio Favilla, UNWTO Executive Director, emphasized that universal accessibility is a right and a business opportunity for destinations and companies: “Accessible tourism is the answer to everyone’s universal right to travel and discover the world. At the same time, it is an opportunity for the tourism industry to capture a global marketplace that includes millions of people with disabilities, seniors, families with young children and many others who encounter numerous barriers, both physical and cultural, when travelling.”
Javier García, Director of Standardization of the Spanish Association for Standardization (UNE), stated that “technical standards are documents available to all, which contain the consensus of all parties related to globally-accepted good practices, helping organizations to establish their criteria for action. Currently, the Spanish catalogue contains 75 standards and draft standards that establish the accessibility requirements in many areas, benefiting persons with disabilities and their families, as well as society in general”. UNE is the entity responsible for the development of technical standards in Spain and is the national representative at international and European standardization bodies.
To date, the working group established under ISO TC228 has representatives from Panama, Austria, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Portugal, Argentina, Malta, Canada, Ireland and Spain, as well as representatives of associations such as ENAT (European Network of Accessible Tourism), HOTREC (European Association of Hotels, Restaurants and Cafés), ECTAA (European Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agents), SBS (Small Business Standards, the European association representing SMEs in standardization), and ANEC (the European consumer association for standardization)
The new standard, which is expected to be approved in 2018 after reaching consensus at the ISO level and promulgated during 2019, will be applied to the different stakeholders of the tourism sector, both public and private and at different levels.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As Kerala joins the rest of the world to celebrate World Tourism Day with the theme ‘Tourism for All — Promoting Universal Accessibility’ on Tuesday, the State is nowhere near the UNWTO goal of ‘Tourism for All’ agenda and in the development of accessible tourism infrastructure, products and services.
Even after earning a name in the world tourism map, the needs of those with vision, hearing, mobility or cognitive disabilities have not been addressed in the tourism destinations in the State. Properties with three-star grade and above have basic facilities for the disabled to get the classification tag of Tourism Ministry. Houseboats have started providing easy access to those arriving in wheel-chairs.
But the destinations lack facilities for the leisure and recreation needs of people with disabilities. Kovalam, which fetched Kerala a name in the tourism map, is yet to have even a ramp. Lack of toilets for people with reduced mobility, unhygienic condition of the available ones, absence of public utilities such as telephone, water tap, etc., at convenient places, lack of access to stairs/lifts, slippery or coarse tracks also hampers the movement of the disabled.
The planners have also failed to realise the potential of tourists with reduced mobility. “We have a great distance to go. We have not given due importance to access tourism. Some products such as houseboats have started adapting to the needs of people with disabilities” admits Principal Secretary, Tourism, V. Venu.
“Rudimentary work had been done in museums and monuments. Building a ramp is not a solution. Access audit is needed to address the problem. Our resolve is to work on it,” he said.
This year’s official celebrations of World Tourism Day will be held under the UNWTO at Bangkok. Kerala Tourism and the stake-holders of the industry have organised various programs to observe the day.
Noting the obstacles that persons with disabilities or those with other access requirements face in taking advantage of fundamental aspects of travel, senior United Nations officials today urged policy-makers, travel planners and companies that work with persons with disabilities to work together to make travel more accessible.
“Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message on World Tourism Day. He added, however: “Even with modern technologies, those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments are being left behind in many tourism destinations.”
According to the message, while almost 1.2 billion people are travelling aboard each year, close to one billion persons with disability, along with young children, older persons and persons with other access requirements, still face obstacles in accessing the most basic travel needs such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate.
“Tourism has become a powerful economic sector, a passport to prosperity and peace, and a transformative force improving millions of lives,” noted Mr. Ban, underlining that benefits of accessible tourism will not only provide an important market opportunity, it will help ensure that all people are able to participate in tourism and enjoy unforgettable travel experiences.
The theme for this year’s World Tourism Day is Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility.
In a separate message, Taleb Rifai, the Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the specialized UN agency that works for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, highlighted that travelling has become a major part in many lives and said that with the world’s population ageing, everyone sooner or later will benefit from universal accessibility in tourism.
“As we celebrate World Tourism Day, let us recall that all of the world’s citizens have the right to experience the incredible diversity this planet has to offer,” he said, urging all countries and destinations, as well as the tourism industry, to promote accessibility for all.
In September 2015, the UNWTO’s general assembly designated Thailand as host country for the 2016 World Tourism Day. As the host, the South-east Asian country will partner with the UN agency to celebrate the occasion.
In her own message, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand, said that in addition to understanding the needs of everyone, considering the environment impact of tourism is equally important.
“As the world of travel and tourism is an expanding industry and the number of travellers increases every year, we have to ensure that travelling the world has to be safe and seamless at its utmost,” she said.
In 1979, the UNWTO General Assembly decided to institute the World Tourism Day to be commemorated every year on 27 September, the anniversary of the adoption of the UNWTO Statutes, to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.
Explore Himalayas: Wounded Heroes Trek to Nepal is to encourage “Tourism for All”. The Wounded Heroes Trek is tied to the UN Year of Accessible Tourism and the first group, which will trek in September, an event in Nepal on World Tourism day to highlight the options for people with disabilities and, we hope, inspire the 500,000 Nepalis with mobility disabilities who we seek to empower and engage.
Some of our participants have inspired people around the globe. The team consists of 19 members including a medical doctor, occupational therapist, registered nurse and a prosthetists. These men and women will go up to Ghorepani – Poonhill on their prosthetic legs. It will be a beginning of making a statement to tie accessible tourism with reconstructing Nepal. The project will be followed by building a Mobility Resource Center for people with various physical disabilities in Nepal in collaboration with renowned American colleges and medical centers.
A customized program focuses on trekking and sightseeing for physically disabled individuals including athletes and/or wounded warriors with the help of experienced trekkers and guides.
The program will be a breakthrough in accessible tourism in Nepal and are expecting it to open up a new sub tourism sector in Nepal and around the world. It will not just generate a social awareness globally but also build corporate social responsibilities in the hotel, restaurant, transportation, airport and other sectors to serve such specific group. The event planner to organize an awareness program in collaboration with Nepali disability associations in the presence of our group of tourists. A multidisciplinary team of health care professionals with specialty skills in Prosthetics, Rehabilitation and Emergency Medicine will accompany the group.
The Minister for Tourism Dr Edward Zammit Lewis and the Parliamentary Secretary for Rights of Persons with Disability and Active Ageing Dr Justyne Caruana, addressed a business breakfast entitled Accessible Tourism for All.
The Minister for Tourism stated that accessible tourism is one of the major issues that is currently being addressed by the global tourism industry. He remarked that with the number of international travellers exceeding 1 billion, countries are increasingly treating tourism as an important part of their national development strategies, viewing tourism as an effective driver of economic growth and inclusive development, creating jobs and wellbeing for their respective communities.
“In this context, accessible tourism for all is not only about providing access to people with disabilities, but about creating universally designed environments that can support people that may have temporary disabilities and mobility issues, including families with young children, and the ever increasing ageing population. In parallel, it also creates a safer environment for employees to work in,” said the Minister for Tourism.
Dr Edward Zammit Lewis noted that travellers with disabilities represent a growing tourism market and tackling effectively accessibility within the tourism sector will result in a number of advantages that will generate a further competitive advantage.
Moreover, the Minister explained that expanding the market by improving products and services associated with accessibility, will boost our market potential and improve our image by enhancing the quality and competitiveness of our tourism offering.
“Perhaps if we focus on meeting the needs and expectations of ALL our visitors, we will be ready for the time when terms such as ‘accessible,’ ‘barrier-free,’ ‘universal,’ will stop being used, and we will be talking solely of real ‘quality tourism’ – that is, offering a comprehensive service appropriate to each and very category of client,” stated Dr Edward Zammit Lewis.
During his address the Minister for Tourism noted that this growing focus on ‘Accessible Tourism’ presented a challenge to the global travel industry, including Malta’s, in terms of improving policies and mobilising the required investments to carry out the necessary improvements across the board, both in the short and long term.
He affirmed that with the right approach, the Maltese tourism sector has a golden opportunity to serve an important and growing market and win new customers and stated that all tourism operators should view measures to improve accessibility as an opportunity, within the context of the refurbishment of their properties.
Towards this end, Dr Edward Zammit Lewis said that the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) and the Ministry for Tourism, together with the National Commission for Persons with Disability (KNPD), drafted an ‘Audit Report’ process that will encourage and guide hoteliers to improve accessibility within their properties.
He emphasised that the Tourism for All initiative addressed the needs of persons with different impairments and focused on the hotel sector to enable establishments to reach a higher standard in terms of accessibility, thus giving the opportunity to hotels to be officially recognised for their accessible facilities.
Dr Edward Zammit Lewis also recommended that operators throughout the whole service chain ensure that their staff receives the necessary training and skills development in order to become more aware of the needs of guests with disabilities or mobility issues and be able to meet such needs and also how to interact effectively and professionally with these guests.
The Minister announced that in collaboration with KNPD, the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS) is currently working to equip both lecturing community at ITS, and more importantly current and future students with the right set of competencies.
He explained that ITS is collaborating with KNPD in order to review its programmes to update competencies towards inclusion practices, develop training sessions for ITS academic staff and finally contribute to stakeholder dialogue for inclusion at a national level.
During his address Dr Edward Zammit Lewis also made reference to initiatives intended to promote further accessibility in tourism undertaken by the Malta Tourism Authority, he said that the Authority had been investing in beach wheelchairs and intended to purchase more beach wheelchairs so that by Summer 2016 there would be at least one beach wheelchair available on all sandy beaches in Malta and Gozo.
In his concluding remarks, Dr Edward Zammit Lewis said that he trusted that all hoteliers viewed this initiative as an opportunity to increase their competitive edge, he reiterated that the importance of enhancing quality along the entire tourism value chain, was a primary objective of the National Tourism Policy that will contribute to our country’s future tourism competitiveness and the long-term sustainability of the sector.
“Time is ripe to add accessibility as an additional star that a hotel can be awarded – if and when it qualifies for it. This should indicate and certify at international level that the accommodation package is meant to be open to all.”
This was Parliamentary Secretary Justyne Caruana’s main proposal when addressing a business breakfast on Accessible Tourism for All . She added that in itself it endorses the operators’ own efforts to secure full accessibility to all within their premises. They will prove that they are aware that the least thing holiday-makers would ever accept is to have issues that can obstruct in anyway their plans.
In her speech, the Parliamentary Secretary for Rights of Persons with Disability and Active Ageing Justyne Caruana, stressed the need for more awareness that society is made of different people with a variety of skills and aspirations.
“World and local economies can be best measured against the wellbeing of society,” she said, adding that this is the Maltese Government’s basic idea for the fair society it is building. With a committed political will and stakeholders’ input the country can further prosper in coming years.
“It is essentially a scenario where no one is excluded, a reality that commits us to set standards for equal life opportunities – no matter the age or ability,” Dr Caruana said.
Tourism being a major service industry, accessibility ought to be a paramount. The sector serves a million plus visitors to our islands each year, with a multiplier effect that strongly contributes to our Gross Domestic Product. “Stakeholders know well that, however successful any of their operations may be, it will always be most beneficial for them to review and update the interlinked components of those activities, particularly the accessibility factor,” she added.
The Parliamentary Secretary described visitors as having various tastes and levels of interest, but likewise different needs and expectations, which no entrepreneur can ignore.
She said a committed operator will always be reviewing his check-list for what visitors expect as regards travel facilities and safety assurances. “The emphasis lies on facilities which should be accessible to all, irrespective of age or disabilities,” Dr Caruana added.
Dr Caruana dealt at length on accessibility as a fundamental human right, implying that facilities and services are to be inclusive, thus securing equal rights and opportunities to persons with disabilities.
“It sounds anachronistic in this day and age to even talk of accessibility, as it should be a foregone conclusion, after decades of debate worldwide. “We still face cases where a change in mentality is imperative,” she added.
It was for this purpose that the Parliamentary Secretariat for Rights of Persons with Disability and Active Ageing and the Ministry for Tourism have been presented with a detailed set of regulations that ought to be adhered to if stakeholders ever expect their product to factually mean – “Tourism for all.”
Referring to the wide spectrum of purposes of travel, Dr Caruana highlighted that the flair or need for travel has no age. “With longer life expectancy on such a fast increase, we will experience an ever growing crowd of older visitors.
Similarly, with the rise of global awareness for rights of persons with disabilities, it will be unheard of to offer a side or back entrance to those who have mobility or any other disability,” she underlined.
The Parliamentary Secretary reiterated that facilities providing accommodation are to meet what people expect as to their likes and needs. She said that time is ripe to add accessibility as an additional star that a hotel can be awarded – if and when it qualifies for it.
Guaranteeing accessibility would effectively ensure the viability of all investments in the industry. The additional star for accessibility would eventually be the crowning reward for thinking outside the box and think of patrons as persons with a variety of abilities and disabilities.
Dr Caruana also dealt on what is now known as the Silver Economy which is an opportunity that arises from the public, private and consumer expenditure related to population ageing and their specific needs. In fact silver economy is being considered as the 3rd largest economy in the world.
Adaptation to an ageing society requires increased independence and social inclusion, where health and social care are crucial to effectively enable active and healthy ageing. Those aims could be greatly facilitated by better connectedness with peers, carers, employers, medical professionals and hoteliers. Dr Caruana added that it is an opportunity for creating more jobs in various sectors related to old persons and those with disabilities – tourism included.
The Parliamentary Secretary specified that the guiding components will basically require age and disability-friendly environments and mainstreaming of accessibility, thus offering a holistic product that meets all aspirations.
“Full inclusion is at the very heart of our agenda as government. Within the Maltese socio economic context, accessible tourism is pivotal to ensure full social and economic participation of the elderly and persons with disability,” she said, concluding that “benefits are there to be reaped by both providers and consumers, ensuring that in a fair society, tourism is for all.
Participants were also addressed by Ms Daniela Bas, United Nations Director for Social Policy and Development (DSPD), Ms Marina Diotallevi, Programme Manager Ethics & Social Responsibility from UNWTO, who both travelled purposely to Malta to attend this initiative and by representatives from the Malta Tourism Authority, the National Commission for Persons with Disability, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, the University’s Department of Gerontology and Youth and Community Studies, and the Institute for Tourism Studies.
Watch the ‘Tourism for All’ video below:
TACLOBAN CITY, LEYTE, PHILLIPPINES: The National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) and the Department of Tourism are pushing for accessible tourism for persons with disabilities as they sponsored a seminar of the same objective.
On Thursday, owners/managers of tourism partners like hotels, inns, tourism transport companies, restaurant, ambulatory clinics, spas, recreational and other players in the industry gathered to support the campaign which started in 2011 where DOT issued a memorandum Circular entitled: Adopting the Guidelines on the Grant of Special Discounts to Persons with Disabilities Pursuant to the Provisions of Republic Act No. 9442.
The tourism industry partners were honed in the knowledge and skills on the right ways to handle persons with mobility, hearing and vision disabilities.
Other participants include officials of national government agencies, local governments and officials of some disability groups.
Carmen Zubiaga, NCDA Executive Director, Rizalio Sanchez, Chief, information, Education and Communication Division of NCDA took turns in discussing the key mandates on Disability.
DOT Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes was also present to show support to the project.
Tiopes in her message urged those present that “E Visayas should not only be known for its great food, great sights and historical places but as champion in handling tourists who are persons with disabilities.”
Tourism for All concept ensures tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age as long as they are able to travel and function independently in their socio-cultural and economic activities in places where they want to visit.
As the seminar folded up, the participants were asked if they are ready to receive the type of tourists that the NCDA endorsed, the attendees honestly replied, “not yet’ but promised to be so in the near future.
CAIRO: In order to attract visitors who have disabilities to the Red Sea and raise awareness on the value of employing persons with disabilities in the tourism sector, the International Labour Organization (ILO) Cairo Office announces the Red Sea Accessible Tourism Competition 2016, with the slogan “Tourism for All”. The competition is organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, the Red Sea Governorate, the Egyptian Hotel Association, and the European Network for Accessible Tourism.
Accessible tourism is an untapped potential for Egypt, due to the growing numbers of persons with disabilities and ageing populations in many developed countries and in emerging economies. This requires tourism services to be prepared to meet new demands for comfort, safety, and accessibility. Guests with disabilities, seniors, and families with young children all benefit from improved infrastructure and services, and staff who are aware of the needs of an increasingly diverse customer base.
The first accessible tourism competition in Egypt targets hotels and tourism service providers operating in the Red Sea Governorate, and invites them to compete for four prizes depending on their efforts in making their services more accessible (infrastructure, facilities and services, awareness, and staff training, etc.). The prizes include study tours to a European country that is distinguished for its tourism accessibility, and membership of the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT).
Interested hotels and tourism service providers (e.g., coach tours, diving centers, boat excursions, desert safaris, spas, etc.) should send their applications to email: firstname.lastname@example.org , before 5 pm on Tuesday February 9th 2015. Winners will be announced in February 2016.
ANGELES CITY, PHILIPPINES: The National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA) and Department of Tourism (DOT) pitched for a tourism industry in Central Luzon that caters to the needs of persons with disabilities.
“The first step towards the realization of the Accessible Tourism for All goal is for everyone to know, understand, respect, and advocate persons with disabilities rights in the environment,” NCDA Acting Executive Director Carmen Zubiaga said during the one-day seminar on how to handle persons with disabilities in the tourism industry.
“What we need is massive sensitization in dealing with persons with disabilities. As stakeholders and duty bearers, we must understand that disability is human rights issue and at the same time a societal responsibility. With the fact that it is the environment that makes a person with disability, our role now is very critical to ensure that persons with disabilities are not discriminated and that they are included in various developmental projects,” Zubiaga said.
She also cited that accessibility is the key to enjoyment of persons with disabilities rights and their full participation in the society.
“Accessibility of built environment and transportation contribute to barrier-free tourism. This is a way of capturing the forgotten market segment. In this way, not only will persons with disabilities benefit from this strategy but economic opportunities will also blossom,” Zubiaga said.
For his part, NCDA Information, Education and Communication Division Chief Rizalio Sanchez discussed the key mandates on disability as well as the incentives for establishments and institutions that will abide by the provisions required by pertinent laws.
“There are incentives for providing special needs and service for PWDs. When you hire persons with disabilities in your establishment, you have 25% tax discount on salaries/wages for them and 50% tax incentive on repair for equipment and facilities intended for their use,” Sanchez said.
He also called for the continuous collaboration towards promoting an inclusive tourism for persons with disabilities and challenged everyone to look at the grey areas so they can recommend policies and guidelines to improve their well-being.
DOT Regional Director Ronnie Tiotuico echoed the discussion the ideal architectural structures of hotels and facilities for persons with disabilities.
Aside from the lectures, demonstrations on practical and appropriate ways of handling people with mobility, vision and hearing-disabilities were shown.
These include basic courtesies, handling their needs and such other concerns required by persons with disabilities.
Participants include representatives from the hotel, transport, resort, and travel and tour industries; disabled people’s organization; government offices who oversee the implementation of the tourism industry; and members of the media.
BATUMI, GEORGIA: The 2nd International Conference “Accessible Tourism for Economic Development and Social Responsibility” will be held on November 21-24 2014 in Batumi, Georgia
The aims of the conference are “Promotion of accessible tourism for social inclusion and economic development”
Conference format includes sessions:
Official host of the conference: NGO “PARSA” – The associated member of the ENAT (European Network for Accessible Tourism)
Supporters of the conference:
For registration information, please contact the conference secretariat via e-mail: email@example.com
Policies and measures to promote universal accessibility in tourism will be at the center of the 1st UNWTO European Conference on Accessible Tourism, jointly organized by UNWTO and the Government of the Republic of San Marino in 19-20 November 2014.
Accessible Tourism for All defines the appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, transportation, information and communications and facilities open to the public or for public use.
In recognition of the importance of accessibility in tourism, UNWTO and the Government of the Republic of San Marino will jointly organize the 1st UNWTO European Conference on Accessible Tourism, scheduled to be held in San Marino on 19 November 2014. The Conference will be addressing how to maintain and develop quality, sustainability and competitiveness in accessible tourism.
In signing the agreement at the side-lines of ITB Berlin with Teodoro Lonfernini, Minister of Tourism and Relations with Public Utilities State Corporation of San Marino, UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, underscored how “accessible tourism benefits everyone and advancing the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities should be seen as an opportunity as well as an obligation; UNWTO and the Republic of San Marino are both deeply committed to taking concrete action in this area”.
“Accessibility has become a fundamental issue in tourism. Many countries are devoting special attention to this topic and are adjusting their tourism systems and legislations. After being recognized as 2013 European Destination of Excellence (EDEN), San Marino is being offered by UNWTO the opportunity to focus on accessibility through the organization of a European Conference in the Republic, which fills us with pride. This is a major challenge for the future that we all must meet”, said Mr. Lonfernini.
According to the World Health Organization 15% of the world population has a physical, mental or sensory disability. In its efforts to mainstream universal accessibility within the tourism sector, UNWTO works closely with Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs). In 2013, the General Assembly adopted the Recommendations on Accessible Tourism for All which incorporate the most relevant aspects of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and Universal Design.
Additional highlights include the publication of Manuals on Accessible Tourism, one of which has been already released in partnership with the Spanish ACS Foundation. The manual co-produced with the ONCE Foundation is expected to be issued soon.
The 1st UNWTO European Conference on Accessible Tourism will be held alongside the 14th meeting of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics (WCTE), which recently declared accessible tourism for all one of its top priorities.