Accessibility In Tourism

For people who live with a disability, travelling comes with many obstacles and struggles, all which could be solved in order to prevent the disabled traveler from feeling disadvantaged.

According to the UN

Challenges for persons with disabilities include:
• Untrained professional staff capable of informing and advising about accessibility issues
• Inaccessible booking services and related websites
• Lack of accessible airports and transfer facilities and services
• Unavailability of adapted and accessible hotel rooms, restaurants, shops, toilets and public places
• Inaccessible streets and transport services
• Unavailable information on accessible facilities, services, equipment rentals and tourist attractions

“Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Check out this video which explains how accessible tourism impacts lives

There has been some International action in order to prevent less able people from being disadvantaged when travelling, however there is yet to be equality between able and less able travellers.

According to the UN

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006. CRPD Article 9 on Accessibility calls for State Parties to take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to the physical environment, information, transportation and other facilities and services open or provided to the public. It also calls for the elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, including all transportation and facilities. Furthermore, Article 30 on Participation in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport also calls for State Parties to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy the benefits of tourism.

At the 2013, historic UN High-level Meeting on Disability and Development, which included several Heads of State, the link of disability and development was discussed and the meeting called for enhanced action to mainstream disability in the global development agenda. In the outcome document of the meeting, accessibility was identified as a key area for action.

Furthermore, in his message for the 2013 World Habitat Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the international community to make towns and cities accessible to all.

In the recent 2030 Agenda for Global Action containing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2015), Goal 11 focuses on principles to “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. This goal captures tourism and recreation through its call for the provisions of universal design for accessible and sustainable transport systems, inclusive urbanization, and access to green and public spaces. In its 2011 Declaration,The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicted tourism will increase and experience sustained development, reaching 1.8 billion international tourists by 2030. Accessible cities and tourism provisions therefore ensure the full social and economic inclusion of all persons with direct benefits of promoting more sustainable travel habits among users.

Different Requirements of Accessible Tourism

Many people are unaware as to why accessible tourism is so important.

According to the UN

Accessibility is a central element of any responsible and sustainable development policy. It is both a human rights imperative, as well as an exceptional business opportunity. In this context, accessible tourism does not only benefit persons with disabilities, it benefits all of society.

To ensure that accessible tourism is developed in a sustainable manner requires that tourist destinations go beyond ad hoc services to adopting the principle of universal design, ensuring that all persons, regardless of their physical or cognitive needs, are able to use and enjoy the available amenities in an equitable and sustainable manner. This approach foregoes preferential or segregated treatment of differently abled constituents to permitting uninhibited use of facilities and services by all, at any time, to equitable effect.

And even if you yourself don't currently suffer with accessibility, this fortunate state isn't always permanent. Age especially puts many of us into mobility equipment, which will then require accessible solutions to allow us to travel. Therefore, accessible tourism is important to everyone.


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