“Tourism for All – promoting universal accessibility,” is this year’s theme for World Tourism Day.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has committed to this goal with direct influence from Article 7 of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, which states that “direct and personal access to the discovery and enjoyment of the planet’s resources constitutes a right equally open to all the world’s inhabitants.” This includes at least one billion people living with some form of permanent or temporary disability, plus the elderly and travelers with young children.
Tourism for all is a social imperative that is extremely profitable for businesses as well. According to UNWTO, these travellers often come in groups during the low season, spend more than the average tourist, and have a higher rate of return visits.
The big question then is how destinations can get started in becoming universally accessible. According to Visit Britain, providing access for all must include the following:
- Training employees to be “disability aware,” thereby giving them confidence when serving customers with various accessibility needs;
- Providing accurate and easy to find information on what they can offer; and
- Improving physical facilities that address the needs of those with mobility, visual, auditory, and cognitive requirements.
When making your destination more accessible, it is extremely important to have an inclusive process. This means including people with disabilities and accessibility requirements from the planning stage up to execution. Benchmarking and auditing the changes you’ve made from the onset will also be useful in keeping track of the effectiveness of your progress in the long run.
Making your destination accessible to all may seem like a massive undertaking, but there is an abundance of free resources and support online that you can take advantage of (see links below).
Lastly, here is an inspiring message for “World Tourism Day 2016” from UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai: