According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of the world’s population (1 billion people) is estimated to live with some form of disability. UNWTO is convinced that accessibility for all to tourist facilities, products, and services should be a central part of any responsible and sustainable tourist policy.
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 has prepared a new set of recommendations to ensure accessibility for all and inclusivity, as the responsible restart of tourism gets underway, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. The “Reopening Tourism for Travellers with Disabilities” guide notes the opportunities available to destinations and companies that take practical steps to accommodate the specific needs of persons with disabilities, those with specific access requirements and seniors, in particular.
Accessible Tourism Destination, 2019 Edition
The creation of the international "Accessible Tourism Destination" distinction arises from the joint commitment of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the ONCE Foundation, to recognize and promote accessible tourist destinations. These aims are served by the recognition and dissemination of tourist destinations that make an important effort so that their destination can be enjoyed by any tourist, regardless of their physical, sensory or cognitive abilities.
The ATD is an annual distinction awarded on a worldwide basis by a specialized agency of the United Nations such as the World Tourism Organization. It is not an accessible destination certification that ratifies its excellence in this area but a distinction that highlights the initiatives undertaken so far, as well as the effort to maintain and increase the level of accessibility achieved.
The Expert Committee entrusted with the evaluation of the submissions for UNWTO ATD2019 has been already appointed. It gathers some of the most acknowledged experts in universal accessibility in tourism, representing destinations, consumers, the tourism industry, as well as Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) and international bodies. The work of the Expert Committee shall result in a joint decision on the selection of a single Tourism Destination as an example of accessibility for 2019. In addition, the Committee may also decide to confer special mentions by different types of destinations, depending on the profile of ATD2019 candidates.
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.
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).
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:
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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@example.com.
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/.