The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is calling on destinations to recognize the needs of travellers with disabilities or specific access requirements as they open up to visitors again. In partnership with the ONCE Foundation of Spain and the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), the United Nations specialized agency has released new guideline to ensure accessibility and inclusivity as the responsible restart of tourism gets underway.
According to the newest data from UNWTO, 40% of global destinations have now eased restrictions on travel introduced in response to Covid-19. UNWTO has joined disabled people’s organizations and organizations from across civil society to design a basic set of recommendations aimed at maintaining the ethos of “Accessible Tourism for All” in the new reality.
1. Accessibility means opportunity
The “Reopening Tourism for Travellers with Disabilities” guide notes the opportunities available to destinations that take steps to accommodate the specific needs of persons with disabilities: seniors and those with specific access requirements.
“Much progress has been made in making tourism more accessible to all,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said. “These Guidelines will allow destinations to welcome this wide and diverse demographic as they look to recover from Covid-19.”
2. Guidelines for whole of the sector
The guidelines are a set of basic recommendations addressed at different stakeholders working across the whole of the tourism value chain. The guidelines are 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 training 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
The full set of recommendations, “Reopening Tourism for Travellers with Disabilities: How to Provide Safety Without Imposing Unnecessary Obstacles” can be downloaded here.