According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2023), ¨an estimated 1.3 billion people - about 16% of the global population - currently experience significant disability¨. Accessibility for all to tourism facilities, products, and services should be a central part of any responsible and sustainable tourism policy. Accessibility is not only about human rights. It is a business opportunity for destinations and companies to embrace all visitors and enhance their revenues.
This portal provides UNWTO resources targeting both public and private sectors to include accessibility into their policies and businesses strategies. All resources have been developed in collaboration with Organizations with Persons with Disabilities (DPOs), and key civil society and tourism sector stakeholders. Most of publications guidelines and recommendations have been laid-out following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (level AA).
UNWTO International Conference on Accessible Tourism - 16/17 November 2023
UNWTO and the Government of the Republic of San Marino provided an international platform for governments, destinations and the private sector, to advance accessibility.
What were the objectives of the Conference?
- Foster Leadership in Accessibility: Explore the role of governments and destinations in advancing accessibility.
- Provide International Guidance: Discuss how international tools and universal design principles are applied to the tourism value chain.
- Advance Innovation: Showcase innovative solutions in access to transportation, cultural heritage, nature areas, leisure, MICE and tourism businesses.
Who was this Conference for?
- Governments and destinations
- Tourism industry professionals and developers of IT solutions
- Organizations of persons with disability
- International organizations and development agencies
Which take aways did participants get?
- Insights on best practices and successful accessibility solutions
- Network opportunities
- Being part of the UNWTO & San Marino Action Agenda For the Future of Accessible Tourism
Download here the Programme of the Conference.
ACCESSIBILITY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR MANAGERS OF NATURAL RESOURCES
A set of guidelines on accessibility targeting key players in the management of natural resources, was published by UNWTO and partners in October 2023.
These recommendations aim to guide the decision-makers of natural resources in tourism in undertaking accessibility improvements. The document has a particular focus on facilitating access to protected areas, beaches and parks.
The WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), acted as the expert reviewers. Their involvement was key in identifying the best actions geared towards a greater extent of accessibility and inclusiveness within nature areas, vis a vis tourism.
The guidance tool, whose drafting was led by UNWTO, the ONCE Foundation and UNE, is part of the promotion of ISO Standard 21902:2021.
Recommendations for cultural tourism key players on accessibility
UNWTO, Fundación ONCE and UNE issued in September 2023, a set of guidelines targeting key players of the cultural tourism ecosystem, who wish to make their offerings more accessible.
The key partners in the drafting and expert review process were the ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee and the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT). The ICOMOS experts’ input was key in covering crucial action areas where accessibility needs to be put in the spotlight, in order to make cultural experiences more inclusive for all people.
This guidance tool is also framed within the promotion of the ISO Standard ISO 21902, in whose development UNWTO had one of the leading roles.
User-guide for Accommodation, Food&Beverage and MICE companies to apply International Standards
UNWTO, Fundación ONCE and the Spanish Association for Standardization (UNE) launched, in January 2023, a user guide to apply international standards targeting accommodation, food & beverage and MICE companies. This new guidance tool should serve as a starting point for assessing their levels of accessibility, as well as for developing or adapting accessible services and experiences offered by these sectors.
The key partners in the revision process were Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, International Circle of Hospitality Directors (CIDH), as well as the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT). Our partners' knowledge was instrumental in communicating key messages to the tourism industry on improving accessibility in the recovery process.
Download the user-guide (January 2023) here:
New user-friendly guides for destinations to implement accessibility standards
On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, UNWTO, ONCE Foundation and the Spanish Association for Standardization have launched, in December 2022, a user-guide targeting public administrations and tourism destinations to implement ISO Standard 21902:2021.
This is a key tool to understand specific actions that can be undertaken by a wide range of organizations entrusted with designing policies, strategies and destination marketing plans in the sphere of accessible tourism.
Download the user-guide (December 2022) produced in collaboration with Turismo de Portugal, Turismo Argentina and European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT):
ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS AND RECOMMENDATIONS GUIDING THE RECOVERY
UNWTO held a webinar on 9 December 2021, in partnership with the ONCE Foundation, UNE Spain and ENAT, to shed light on the new normative instruments and recommendations on accessible tourism.
The industry’s leaders called upon tourism stakeholders to implement their own accessibility agenda, in order to grasp all its benefits and make everyone feel welcomed. Every customer counts now, in the recovery process.
Please click here for the recording (YouTube file) or visit the event's webpage.
You can click and download below the takeaway thoughts & conclusions (accessible PDF file):
➥Conclusions (in accessible PDF format) - English: Webinar
➥Conclusions(in accessible PDF format) - Spanish: Webinar
UNWTO INCLUSIVE RECOVERY GUIDE - PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Launched on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December 2020, the UNWTO Inclusive Recovery Guide - Sociocultural Impacts of COVID-19, Issue I: Persons with Disabilities, suggests measures for the whole tourism value chain to build back better, becoming more accessible and more competitive. Just as other guidelines on the UNWTO series, this document will be revised in 2021 with relevant accessibility partners.
Reopening Tourism for Travellers with Disabilities:
How to Provide Safety Without Imposing Unnecessary Obstacles
In partnership with the ONCE Foundation of Spain and the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), UNWTO suggested in July 2020 a set of practical steps to ensure accessibility for all, under the new circumstances. “Reopening Tourism for Travellers with Disabilities” provides recommendations for destinations and service providers to accommodate customers with disabilities and specific access requirements, including seniors.
Accessible Tourism Destination
The "Accessible Tourism Destination" was launched in 2019 by UNWTO and the ONCE Foundation, to recognize and promote accessible tourism destinations.
The ATD is an annual UNWTO distinction based on an Expert Committee evaluation, which acknowledges destinations enabling a seamless experience to any tourist, regardless of their abilities. The first ATD was awarded in 2019 and has been temporarily put on hold, given the pandemic.
Documents available for download:
Video "Change your destination"
The video “Change your destination” was issued by Fundación ONCE and UNWTO by the occasion of the 2019 International Fair of Tourism (FITUR).
Facilitating travel for people with disabilities is an exceptional business opportunity. Yet, a change in mind-set and in the model of tourism services provision is needed in order to meet this major market demand. Accessible environments and services contribute to improve the quality of the tourism product and can create more job opportunities for people with disabilities.
Accessibility, therefore, must be an intrinsic part of any responsible and sustainable tourism policy and strategy.
To mark the celebration of the World Tourism Day 2016 under the theme "Tourism for All - promoting universal accessibility" UNWTO, the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) and the Spanish ONCE Foundation for the Social Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities have produced a compilation of Good Practices in the Accessible Tourism Supply Chain.
While these examples provide a small sample of possible solutions regarding accessibility, they will hopefully inspire others to take steps towards broadening the availability of accessible offers in tourism destinations around the world. The publication has been laid-out following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (level AA)
The tourism sector stakeholders must deliver accurate, relevant and timely information to its customers, prior to, during and even after the journey.
Ensuring that the information is accessible, is without any doubt a key to communicating successfully with visitors in all stages of their journey, particularly with regards to travelers with disabilities and special needs.
The UNWTO Recommendations on Accessible Information in Tourism have been developed with the support and collaboration of the ONCE Foundation for Cooperation and Social Inclusion of People with Disabilities and the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT). They were adopted by the Resolution A/RES/669(XXI) of the General Assembly of UNWTO as a follow-up to the ‘Recommendations on Accessible Tourism for All’ of 2013. The publications in English and Spanish have been laid-out following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (level AA).
The UNWTO Recommendations on Accessible Tourism for All are meant to be used as a general, basic mainstreaming framework for ensuring that people with disabilities have access to the physical environment, the transportation system, information and communications channels, as well as to a wide range of public facilities and services.
The Recommendations incorporate the most relevant aspects of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities of 2006 and the principles of Universal Design.
In the context of a trilateral agreement between UNWTO, ONCE and ENAT, the recommendations were adopted by UNWTO General Assembly Resolution A/RES/637(XX) of August 2013, updating the 2005 UNWTO Recommendations.
Manuals on Accessible Tourism for All
One of the most significant outcomes of a major collaboration framework between UNWTO and Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs), particularly the Spanish ONCE Foundation for the Cooperation and Social Inclusion of People with Disabilities, the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), and the Spanish ACS Foundation, are the Manuals on Accessible Tourism for All.
The manuals are meant to assist tourism stakeholders in improving the accessibility of tourism destinations, facilities and services worldwide.
In recognition of accessibility’s importance in the tourism sector, UNWTO and the Government of San Marino jointly organized the 1st UNWTO Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe (19 - 20 November 2014).
Drawing together policy makers, tourism destinations, the private sector and civil society, this landmark event addressed challenges in advancing quality, sustainability and competitiveness within the tourism sector through universal accessibility.
This publication features 14 good practices presented at the Conference which focus on accessibility of cultural heritage sites, policy frameworks and strategic actions to make accessible tourism a reality.
The publication has been laid-out following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (level AA).
The Declaration which resulted from the 1st UNWTO Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe, held on 19-20 November 2014 in the Republic of San Marino, can be downloaded here:
The first tangible outcome of a fruitful collaboration between UNWTO and the ACS Foundation features the inclusion of both cultural and natural heritage assets into the accessible tourism value chain as well as the technical knowledge necessary for making tourism infrastructures and attractions accessible to all. The English translation of the Spanish original was published in January 2015. The publication has been laid-out following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (level AA)
UNWTO's second publication on universal accessibility has been co-produced with the Spanish ONCE Foundation for social inclusion of people with disabilities and the European Network for Accessible Tourism - ENAT. Module I analyses different aspects of universal accessibility related to tourism, the profile of its direct and indirect beneficiaries, as well as the competitive advantages and economic opportunities that accessibility entails. Module I is available in both English and Spanish, in digital accessible versions. The publications have been laid-out following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (level AA).
Module II of the Manual on Accessible Tourism for All: principles, tools and best practices suggests specific recommendations targeting the tourism sector with the aim of creating accessible tourism destinations. The proposed actions are based on the need to respect the integrity of the entire value chain of a tourist experience when implementing universal accessibility plans, and thus cover the five main areas of the same: planning and information, transportation, accessibility of the natural and built environments, shared public spaces and specific spaces. It is essential that people with disabilities and special needs complete their travel experience without any obstacles like all the other tourists. Module II is currently available in Spanish only, in a digital accessible version. It has been laid-out following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (level AA).
Module III of the Manual on Accessible Tourism for All: principles, tools and best practices, co-produced with the ONCE Foundation and ENAT, highlights the necessary actions that need to be undertaken in order to make the universal accessibility in tourism a reality. These actions should result from an overall policy framework and specific strategies fostering Accessible Tourism which are being discussed in this module. The policy framework should provide the basis for proper planning and development of strategic areas of intervention, such as legislation, awareness-raising and training, research, as well as marketing and management of accessible tourism. Module III is currently available in Spanish only, in a digital accessible version. It has been laid-out following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (level AA).
Module IV of the Manual on Accessible Tourism for All: Principles, Tools and Best Practices, co-produced with the ONCE Foundation and ENAT, proposes a series of indicators developed for tourism destinations to assess, control, and manage their accessible tourism offer. Accompanied by a detailed methodology for their application, these indicators can serve as a practical tool not only to assess the current situation within destinations but also to consider further actions that may be required. Module IV is currently available in Spanish only, in a digital accessible version. It has been laid-out following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (level AA).
Module V of the Manual on Accessible Tourism for All: principles, tools and best practices, co-produced with the ONCE Foundation and ENAT, provides an overview of case studies and good practices which have proven a successful implementation of universal accessibility in different spheres of tourism, such as promotion, market research, travel agencies, transportation, accommodation, training & capacity building and destination management. The examples featured therein analyze a wide spectrum of conditions which were decisive in making accessible tourism a reality and are meant to inspire the key stakeholders to engage in similar initiatives in their respective areas of influence. Module V is available in both English and Spanish, in digital accessible versions. The publications have been laid-out following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (level AA).
The brochure "Accessible Tourism for All: An opportunity within Our Reach" features the major highlights of the Manual on Accessible Tourism for All produced with the ONCE Foundation and ENAT.
It is aimed at making tourism stakeholders familiar with the content of the five modules of the Manual in a reader-friendly and summarized form. The publication has been laid-out following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (level AA).
External partners' projects and initiatives
Gondolas for All: A cutting-edge project to make gondolas accessible to all. Click for a promotional video and a cartoon. For more info please contact Mr. Roberto Vitali, President, Village4All, [email protected]
Weseman Travel: Catering for deaf travellers from Europe visiting deaf communities in developing countries. Click here for the video or read an article about the founder Mr. Jos Weseman. For more info please contact [email protected].
Ruta Accesible: An online portal aimed at making travelling possible for all. The website provides information about several countries for travellers with reduced mobility. For more info please contact Josefina Kuncarjos, legal representative of the portal, at http://rutaaccesible.com/ . (Only available in Spanish)
ReadSpeaker: A software solution that critically enhances the accessibility for all of the web, as it allows visitors to listen to the text of every webpage being read aloud. For more info, please visit http://www.readspeaker.com/.