Published On: Wed, May 30th, 2018

The challenge of achieving tourism “for all”

About 1 billion people, 15% of the world's population, have some type of disability. What are your concerns before going on vacation?

disability_tourismAccording to a study by the University of Pennsylvania, the main anxiety of tourists is related to security and crimes in the destinations to which they are directed. On the other hand, a family may have another concern that is even more urgent on their list: can they correctly access their destination?

This concern is accentuated in all activities that take place at the time of vacation: arriving at an airport without proper signage, taking a bus with high steps or going to a restaurant only illuminated by a dim light that makes it difficult to read the menu, to mention Some examples.
These situations are familiar to about 66 million Latin Americans. According to ECLAC, about 12% of the continent's population lives with at least one type of disability. At the global level, according to data presented by the World Bank in the 2011 World Disability Report, it is estimated that around 1,000 million people have some form of disability, which makes this group the largest minority in the world.

The difficulties do not occur only to those with disabilities of a permanent nature. Most people, throughout their life, face some kind of limitation. Seniors, pregnant women, coeliacs, parents with small children, short individuals and injured people also see their reduced mobility.
A theme of all

According to international experts Neumann and Reuber, accessibility to services is essential for 10% of the population, necessary for 40% and comfortable for 100%. Not only benefits the tourist, but also favors the citizens: a friendly city with its inhabitants will be with all its visitors.
This has happened in the city of Avila in Spain, where accessibility improvements improved the lives of tourists and residents to the point of having been declared the first European City of Accessibility in 2011. This last award did nothing but encourage the tourist industry. In Latin America, progress has also been made in making cities more inclusive, both for their inhabitants and for tourists, especially in the transport sector. However, much remains to be done to create more opportunities.

Adaptation towards more accessible tourism is an intelligent policy, both from a rights and business perspective. Rest and recreation, enshrined in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, require initiatives that guarantee access for all citizens to it. This should not be seen only as an obligation of the countries, but as a new opportunity for them.

"Governments and the private sector should see the potential for inclusion of 15% -17% of the population as a market that has not yet been exploited, such as a solid investment in social inclusion: something that could benefit large swaths of the population", says Charlotte V. McClain-Nhlapo, global advisor on Disability at the World Bank.

Experts say that a consistent offer of tourism requires a combination of integrated public and private services, providing reliable and up-to-date information to both residents and tourists. It also requires adequate means of transport and the necessary protection to guarantee the safety of all.

A last factor is the attitude: it is essential to provide specific training to the staff, so that they can meet the requirements of people with access needs in a friendly and coordinated manner.

In order to make these destinations inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, a concrete development of the state policy in the matter must be fostered, elaborating integral plans according to the destination, involving the private sector and making use of the latest technological advances.
The "tourism for all" requires a change of mentality on the part of all, especially through a growing citizen awareness. Only in this way, we can all exercise our right to plan vacations where we want.

The hope of a norm

ISO / TC 228 is a committee created in 2005 under a shared leadership between UNE (Spain) and INNORPI (Tunisia), currently has 99 countries and 21 liaison organizations involved.

The standard is composed of 26 published standards and currently 12 projects in development on topics such as diving, health tourism, adventure tourism, marinas, boat rentals, voluntary tourism, sustainable management system for accommodation or accessible tourism.
ISO / TC 228 is a technical committee of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), responsible for developing internationally accepted standards of terminology and specifications of services offered by tourism service providers, including related activities, tourist destinations and requirements of the equipment and facilities used by them to provide buyers of tourism, suppliers and consumers with criteria to make informed decisions.

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