UNWTO advocates accessible tourism in the new normal

disabled Young man in wheelchair on a boardwalk on lake enjoying his freedom

As tourism restarts, the UNWTO is calling on destinations to recognise and cater for the needs of travellers with disabilities or specific access requirements.

In partnership with the Once Foundation of Spain and the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), the UN agency has released a set of guidelines to ensure accessibility and inclusivity for all in the new reality.

UNWTO urges destinations to ensure accessibility, as the responsible restart of tourism gets underway

The Reopening Tourism for Travellers with Disabilities guide also notes the opportunities available to destinations that take steps to accommodate the specific needs of persons with disabilities, those with specific access requirements and seniors.

The guidelines are a set of basic recommendations aimed at helping stakeholders, including accommodation providers, bars, restaurants and tourism offices, adjust to new health and sanitary demands without reducing accessibility.

The recommendations cover four distinct areas:

• Travel planning and protocols: Including steps to guarantee seamless travel, and for making relevant information available and accessible to all
• Transportation: Including the importance of upskilling employees, adjusting protocols for passengers with disabilities/access requirements at airports and stations, as well as the provision and hygienic upkeep of mobility equipment
• Accommodation, bars and restaurants: Focusing on accessibility to cater for different needs of clients, guaranteeing social distancing, and enhanced hygiene procedures in all tourism-related establishments
• Tourist activities: Including recommendations to help destinations and attractions adapt existing protocols by taking into account accessibility issues related to queuing, health and safety measures, and new venue capacities

UNWTO secretary-general, Zurab Pololikashvili, said: “Much progress has been made in making tourism more accessible to all. As we guide the responsible restart of tourism, we must make sure that this progress is not rolled back. Instead, it must be stepped up as it will benefit everyone. These guidelines, produced in collaboration with Once Foundation and ENAT show that simple, thoughtful measures can make a real difference for travellers – and in return, allow destinations to welcome this wide and diverse demographic as they look to recover from Covid-19.”

Fundación Once vice-president, Alberto Durán, underlined: “It is fundamental that we use this time of change to sensitise all stakeholders to the need to include persons with disabilities and their families in tourism, leaving no one behind. These clients can help businesses stay afloat in these challenging times, representing opportunities for all.”

The full set of recommendations can be downloaded here.

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