Accessible Tourism

Accessible Tourism

According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2023), 1.3 billion people - about 16% of the global population - 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.

Did you know..? 

  • Almost 50% of people aged more than 60 have a disability (UNDESA, 2022) 
  • Travellers with disabilities tend to travel accompanied by 2 to 3 travel companions (Bowtell, 2015)
  •  2/3 of people with disabilities in developed economies are likely to have means to travel (based on Bowtell, 2015)

This portal provides an insight into UN Tourism resources on accessibility. All resources were developed with key inputs from Organizations with Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), civil society and tourism sector stakeholders. The publications generally follow the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (level AA).

International Accessible Tourism Forum - Asia & the Pacific 

The Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism and the Korea Tourism Organization hosted in Seoul the International Accessible Tourism Forum in partnership with UN Tourism. The forum,  entitled The Future of Tourism for All - Advancing Accessible Tourism in the Asia and the Pacific Region, took place on 11 and 12 December 2023 and discussed how tourism in Asia & the Pacific can tap into the global market of 1.3 billion people with disabilities. Innovative approaches were presented to provide key information, create accessible itineraries and train tourism professionals. 

Download here the Programme of the Forum   

 

UN Tourism International Conference on Accessible Tourism 

UN Tourism and the Government of the Republic of San Marino provided again an international platform for governments, destinations and the private sector, to advance accessibility. 

The Conference discussed accessible tourism policies and product development, as well as international guidance tools applied to the tourism value chain. Good practices showcased innovative solutions in access to transportation, cultural heritage, nature areas, leisure, MICE and a wide range of tourism businesses. The UN Tourism & San Marino Action Agenda for the Future of Accessible Tourism 2030 outlines a series of public commitments to undertake specific accessibility improvements. 

Download here the Programme of the Conference

Download the San Marino Action Agenda in English, Spanish, French and Arabic.
 

Recommendations for managers of natural resources

A set of guidelines on accessibility targeting key players in the management of natural resources, was published by UN Tourism in October 2023. The document focuses on facilitating access to protected nature 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 UN Tourism, the ONCE Foundation and UNE, is part of the promotion of ISO Standard 21902:2021.

Download here the guidelines in English and Spanish

 

Recommendations for cultural tourism key players   

UN Tourism, 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 UN Tourism had one of the leading roles. 

Download here the English and Spanish version of the Recommendations.  

 

Recommendations for Accommodation, Food&Beverage and MICE companies 

UN Tourism, 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, and 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), and the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT)

Download the user-guide (January 2023) here:

 

Recommendations for governments and destinations 

On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, UN Tourism, 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 guiding the Recovery

UN Tourism held a webinar in 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

 

UN Tourism Inclusive Recovery Guide - Persons with Disabilities 

Launched on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December 2020, the UN Tourism 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. 


Reopening Tourism for Travellers with Disabilities

Reopening Tourism for Travellers with DisabilitiesIn partnership with the ONCE Foundation of Spain and the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), UN Tourism suggested in July 2020 a set of practical steps to ensure accessibility for all, under the circumstances caused by COVID-19. 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

Accessible Tourism DestinationThe "Accessible Tourism Destination" was launched in 2019 by UN Tourism and the ONCE Foundation, to recognize and promote accessible tourism destinations. 

The ATD is an annual UN Tourism 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.  

Documents available for download:


Video "Change your destination"

The video “Change your destination” was issued by Fundación ONCE and UN Tourism 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.

 

World Tourism Day 2016 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. 

 Download full text: Tourism for All - promoting universal accessibility

UNWTO Recommendations on Accessible Information in Tourism 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 access requirements.

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. 

 Download full text: UNWTO Recommendations on Accessible Information in Tourism

UNWTO Recommendations on Accessible Tourism for AllThe 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. 

 Download full text: UNWTO Recommendations on Accessible Tourism for All

 

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. 

 Download full text: Highlights of the 1st UNWTO Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe

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:

 Download full text: Highlights of the 1st UNWTO Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe


Manuals on Accessible Tourism for All

One of the most significant outcomes of a major collaboration framework between UN Tourism 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.

Public-Private Partnerships and Good PracticesThe 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)

Download full text: English | Spanish

Download Executive Summary: English | Français

 Public-Private Partnerships and Good PracticesModule 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. 

 Download full text: Module I: Definition and Context

Module II: Accessibility Chain and Recommendations 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.

 Download full text: Module II: Accessibility Chain and Recommendations (Español)

Module III: Principal Intervention Areas 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.

 Download full text: Module III: Principal Intervention Areas  (Español)

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. 

 Download full text: Module IV: Indicators for Assessing Accessibility in Tourism (Español)

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. 

 Download full text: Module V:  Good Practices of Accessible Tourism for All (English)
 Download full text: Module V:  Good Practices of Accessible Tourism for All (Español)

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. 

 Download full text: Accessible Tourism for All: An Opportunity within Our Reach