UNWTO Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe

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.

UNWTO logoAccessible 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.

DESA Forum for Accessible Tourism and Sustainable Development for All

WASHINGTON, DC: Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) in collaboration with the UN Office for South-South Cooperation and the Organization of American States (OAS) plans to organize a forum on “Accessible Tourism and Sustainable Development for All” on 17 November 2014 in Washington, DC.

The Forum will be held as part of the 2014 Global South-South Development Expo and work to promote accessible tourism as an effective means for poverty eradication, employment generation and social inclusion of persons with accessibility needs.

A call for nominations on initiatives (policies, projects and innovative solutions) that have proved successful in the promotion of the accessible tourism and sustainable development was sent earlier and will contribute to the discussions at the Forum.

Lack of accessible tourism costing economy billions

Researchers at the University of Surrey have found that the European tourism sector is losing out on as much as €142 billion every year due to poor infrastructure, services and attitudes towards travelers with disabilities.

Accessible Tourism

Accessible Tourism. Photo: Aqeel Qureshi

The research project, which was funded by the European Commission, found that travelers within the EU who required special access (whether through disability or age) undertook 783 million trips within the region in 2012, contributing €394 billion and 8.7 million jobs to the European economy.

However, if European destinations were fully accessible, this demand could increase by up to 44% a year – producing an additional €142 billion GDP and creating 3.4 million jobs.

The research, which was carried out by Dr Victoria Eichhorn, Dr Gang Li, Professor Graham Miller and Dr Jason Chen from the University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, is the first of its kind to study the economic impact of accessible tourism within Europe.

“The worry of many small and medium-sized businesses has been recouping the cost of adapting for special access needs”, explained Professor Miller. This research shows that this cost will not only be recovered, but will result in market growth.

“In the long-term, commitment is required from both the public and private sectors. However, even small changes in the meantime will reap massive rewards.”

Following the research, the European Commission has identified several key recommendations for improving accessibility in its report, Economic impact and travel patterns of accessible tourism in Europe.

Antonella Correra, Policy Officer at the European Commission, commented: “This is the most comprehensive research on accessible tourism carried out so far in Europe.

“Far from being a niche sector, accessible tourism is a huge market opportunity. The research provides clear evidence that accessible tourism services are also better services, that increase the visibility and reputation of tourism destinations, and give a competitive edge to operators.”

Explore the full report on the European Commission’s website or discover more about hospitality and tourism research at the University of Surrey.

Source: University of Surrey

Seminar on accessible tourism held

PHILIPPINES: The National Council on Disability Affairs in partnership with the Department of Tourism held a “Regional Forum on Accessible Tourism for Person with Disabilities” and “Seminar on Handling Person with Disability” on May 22-23 at the Forest Lodge , Camp John Hay, Baguio City.

Carmen Zubiaga, NCDA acting executive director, said the activity is in line with the government trust of promoting a barrier- free tourism and disability inclusive tourism environment for persons with disabilities.

The first forum identified issues and related to accessible tourism through orientation on the existing local and international laws and mandates for persons with disabilities to come up with policy recommendations and measures that would create an inclusive barrier free and right –based society for persons with disabilities.

The second forum envisions to teach front-liners of hotels and other tourism-related industries on how to deal with customers and disabilities.

The activities is in line with the implementation of the National Tourism Development Plan as one of the core programs of President Benigno S. Aquino III focused on Tourism Promotion and Development that will eventually create more job opportunities for Filipinos including those with disabilities.

Invited resource person discussed the technical aspects and details of the universal design concept on tourism related establishments intended primarily for persons with disabilities including the elderly, children, and pregnant women.

In addition, the non- handicapping environment and Web Accessibility will be presented for the benefit of both local and international tourist with disabilities.

Source: SunStar

Philippines to hold forum on accessible tourism for persons with disabilities

QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES: In line with the Government’s thrust of promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the tourism industry and other Tourism-related programs of the government, the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA), in collaboration with the Department of Tourism, will conduct a regional forum on Accessible Tourism for Persons with Disabilities on November 26 at Alona Kew White Beach Resort, Barangay Tawala, Panglao Island, Bohol.

The forum will also be conducted in pursuant to the universal policies and principles of “Accessible Tourism for All” as provided for under existing statutes, such as Batas Pambansa Bilang 344 (Accessibility Law), Republic Act No. 7277 or the Magna Carta for Persons with Disabilities and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Relevant to this, the forum will also identify major issues related to accessible tourism and recommend policy measures that would create an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society for persons with disabilities.

Experts on the construction of tourism related establishments will discuss the technical aspects and details of its physical structures and universal design concepts intended primarily for persons with disabilities including the elderly, children, and pregnant women. Likewise, strategies on “Building a Non-Handicapping Environment” and “Web Accessibility” shall also be presented to expound on the importance of having an accessible and barrier-free tourism that will not only benefit local but international tourists with disabilities as well.

Participants invited in the forum are representatives from the tourism industry sector such as hotel and restaurant managers and tourist transport operators and leaders of organizations/associations of persons with disabilities, and other entrepreneurs engaged in tourism business.

Source: PIA

UNWTO approves accessible tourism recommendations

The UNWTO recommendations on “Wheelchair access onto beach for All” (2013) have been approved and endorsed by the General Assembly. Updated from the 2005 version, the recommendations outline a form of tourism that involves a collaborative process among stakeholders to enable people with access requirements to function independently through universally designed tourism products, services and environments. These recommendations were developed within the framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of 2007.

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.

“Accessibility is a central element of any responsible and sustainable tourism policy. It is both a human rights imperative and an exceptional business opportunity,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “Above all, we must come to appreciate that accessible tourism does not only benefit persons with disabilities or special needs, it benefits us all,” he added.

Along this line, a manual on “Accessible Tourism for All” is set to be published in late 2013, designed to guide tourism stakeholders to improve the accessibility for tourism destinations, facilities and services worldwide. The development of the Manual is a joint effort between UNWTO, the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) and two Spanish institutions, the ACS Foundation and the ONCE Foundation.

According to the World Health Organization (2011), there are approximately 1 billion persons with disabilities in the world, or 15% of the world population having a physical, mental or sensory disability. UNWTO´s “Declaration on the Facilitation of Tourist Travel (2009) underlines travel and tourism facilitation for persons with disabilities as an essential element of any policy for the development of responsible tourism.

European Commission publishes a call for proposal to support the development of accessible tourism itineraries

With a will to promote equal opportunities and social inclusion, as well as quality tourism offer, the European Commission has published a call for proposal to support the development of accessible tourism itineraries.

Accessible Area Sign BoardThis call aims at supporting activities dealing with the design, implementation, promotion, and marketing of accessible tourism itineraries, allowing tourists with special access needs to fully enjoy exciting and diverse tourism experiences.

More specifically, the activities under this call will contribute to:

  • foster adaptation of tourism products and services to the needs of people with disabilities;
  • promote equal opportunity and social inclusion of people people with disabilities;
  • improve skills and training with relation to accessibility in the tourism supply chain;
  • help mainstreaming accessibility in all segments of the tourism supply chain, while at the same time creating a seamless chain of accessibility in tourism;
  • promote, market and disseminate best practices in accessible tourism;
  • provide adequate support and guidance to SMEs;
  • enhance the quality and diversify the offer of accessible tourism experiences in Europe.


New accessible tourism program launched in Scotland

Making tourist services more accessible to persons with disabilities, young children and older people could generate £325million a year for the economy, according to Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing.

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing

Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing.

An “accessible tourism” program has been launched before the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and the Year of Homecoming 2014 at a cost of £45,000, offering online training and guidance on how to advertise the access facilities of services like tourist attractions and hotels.

People with physical disabilities, mental health conditions and temporary injuries, as well as parents with small children and older people, are expected to benefit from the improved services and subsequently spend more money.

Mr Ewing said: “Improving accessibility has real potential to help achieve tourism industry growth ambitions and boost the wider economy, as well as enhancing social equalities.

“There’s never been a better time to promote accessible tourism as we progress towards 2014 when Scotland celebrates the second Year of Homecoming and also takes centre-stage in world terms as host of the world’s biggest sporting events: the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup.”

David Grevemberg, chief executive of Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, said: “We have embedded accessibility and inclusion into critical aspects of delivering the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

“For everyone involved with the Games, whether athlete or visitor, tourism is at the heart of their journey.

“We welcome the fact that everyone can have the chance to enjoy the Games experience. It is right that accessibility within tourism and the hospitality industry, as well as at our events and venues, is being placed at the heart of Scotland’s preparations to welcome the world in 2014.”

Chris McCoy, accessible tourism project manager at VisitScotland, said: “As we prepare to welcome the world in 2014, it’s even more vital that we ensure that the industry is ready for all accessible needs.”

Source: Daily Record


Disability rights advocates push Cebu to adopt accessible tourism program

CEBU: Advocates for the welfare of people with disabilities are pushing Cebu to adopt a “barrier-free tourism” program to provide more opportunities to people with disabilities.

Adela Kono, accessibility specialist of the Organization of Rehabilitation Agencies (ORA), said that the main problems encountered by people with disabilities include access to public transportation and accessible accommodation facilities in tourism sites.

“Let’s make it (barrier-free tourism) open for people with disabilities and for tourists who are also disabled. These people are looking for very accessible places,” Kono said at the Kapihan sa PIA

Kono mentioned that many people with disabilities have complained of accessibility issues especially in toilets and bathrooms.

She said at least 90% of accidents among people with disabilities and the elderly occur in the bathrooms. She also added that with barrier-free tourism, it would provide more employment opportunities to people with disabilities.

It would also be very friendly to people with disabilities for they can move freely in public places where facilities and infrastructures can accommodate them.

Kono said that with barrier-free tourism, foreign people with disabilities or retirees are attracted to visit the country.

She said that people with disabilities in first world countries have enjoyed benefits which are not available in third world countries.

She encouraged hotels and establishments to provide facilities such as ramps, handbars, wider doorways and facilities that give convenience to travelers in wheelchairs.

She mentioned that last 2011, Vice Governor Agnes Magpale and Provincial Board Member Arleigh Sitoy passed an ordinance on barrier-free tourism which suggested the appropriate structures to be made available for people with disabilities in different establishments in Cebu.

“Barrier-free tourism may be truly achieved by enforcing the recommended universal standard design features in all tourism facilities that remove any mobility and safety constraints on the part of people with disabilities,” a provision in the ordinance said.

Source:  Inquirer News

Accessible guided visits to Museum boosts accessible tourism in Spain

MADRID: In addition to the services and facilities designed to enable the public to visit the museum at their own pace, the Reina Sofía Museum also offers a program of guided visits for people with vision or hearing disabilities.

Visitors in the courtyard in the Reina Sofía National Art Museum in Madrid Photo credit: Turespaña

Visitors in the courtyard in the Reina Sofía National Art Museum in Madrid Photo credit: Turespaña

For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, the museum organizes regular visits to the collection and the temporary exhibitions with the service of interpreters of Spanish Sign Language (LSE), and with magnetic induction loops.

For visitors who are blind or low vision, in addition to the tactile tour entitled “The Museum by Hand” which explores some of the most representative sculptures of the 20th century accompanied by an instructor; there is also a descriptive visit entitled “Guernica”, specifically design for this type of public and which revisits the artistic avant-garde movements and the 1930s.

Source: Spanish Culture