UN Says Accessible Tourism Benefits Everyone


Published 2016-09-28 — United Nations officials urge policy-makers, travel planners and companies that work with persons with disabilities to work together to make travel more accessible.

Author: United Nations – Contact: un.org

Quote: “Even with modern technologies, those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments are being left behind in many tourism destinations.”

Main Document

Noting the obstacles that persons with disabilities or those with other access requirements face in taking advantage of fundamental aspects of travel, senior United Nations officials urged policy-makers, travel planners and companies that work with persons with disabilities to work together to make travel more accessible.

“Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message on World Tourism Day. He added, however: “Even with modern technologies, those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments are being left behind in many tourism destinations.”

According to the message, while almost 1.2 billion people are travelling aboard each year, close to one billion persons with disability, along with young children, older persons and persons with other access requirements, still face obstacles in accessing the most basic travel needs such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate.

“Tourism has become a powerful economic sector, a passport to prosperity and peace, and a transformative force improving millions of lives,” noted Mr. Ban, underlining that benefits of accessible tourism will not only provide an important market opportunity, it will help ensure that all people are able to participate in tourism and enjoy unforgettable travel experiences.

The theme for this year’s World Tourism Day is Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility.

In a separate message, Taleb Rifai, the Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the specialized UN agency that works for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, highlighted that travelling has become a major part in many lives and said that with the world’s population ageing, everyone sooner or later will benefit from universal accessibility in tourism.

“As we celebrate World Tourism Day, let us recall that all of the world’s citizens have the right to experience the incredible diversity this planet has to offer,” he said, urging all countries and destinations, as well as the tourism industry, to promote accessibility for all.

In September 2015, the UNWTO’s general assembly designated Thailand as host country for the 2016 World Tourism Day. As the host, the South-east Asian country will partner with the UN agency to celebrate the occasion.

In her own message, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand, said that in addition to understanding the needs of everyone, considering the environment impact of tourism is equally important.

“As the world of travel and tourism is an expanding industry and the number of travellers increases every year, we have to ensure that travelling the world has to be safe and seamless at its utmost,” she said.

In 1979, the UNWTO General Assembly decided to institute the World Tourism Day to be commemorated every year on 27 September, the anniversary of the adoption of the UNWTO Statutes, to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.

Forward Planning is Essential for a Successful Vacation

General InterestPosted by Alan Thu, June 18, 2015 15:55:08
Recent emails from a number of potential guests have led to the generation of this article as all have in common one common denominator, they have not forward planned for essential elements of their vacation. Below I present some case studies and provide solutions to help others avoid the same issues.

When looking to make a hotel reservation in a destination check that you can actually obtain adapted transport at a price that is sensible and within your budget.

Case Study 1. Few days before arrival guest asks for a transfer Barcelona to Salou, at approximately €500 for a round trip it probably costs as much as the holiday.
Solution – fly into Reus for transfers costing as little as €70 each way.

Supply your travel agent or specialist travel company with all relevant information with your very first email contact, not doing so may cost you money.

Case Study 2. Guest requests tour from Barcelona to the Monastery of Montserrat for herself and spouse. Reveals in subsequent emails that there is actually 6 travelling with a mix of wheelchairs and scooters. There is a significant price difference in that transport needs are clearly different and for 6 pax the overall price was significantly higher than that quoted for 2 people.
Solution: Make sure you reveal ALL information relevant to your tour requests to avoid problems with reservations.

Airport transfers – so many people ask for transfers yet do not reveal without being asked what luggage they will bring causing in some cases vehicle unsuitability for the requirements of a guest.

Case Study 3. Guest books airport transfer for 3 people (1 wheelchair) with three suitcases which required one adapted vehicle, yet arrives with 2 wheelchair users and five suitcases thus an extra vehicle had to be found and paid for plus a penalty fee for extra waiting time at the airport whilst a solution was found.
Solution: Inform the transport provider of the exact details of your luggage and the number of people requiring space in an adapted vehicle to avoid extra costs. It is vital to inform transport providers if you have a mobile hoist, extra wheelchair, etc.

Forward planning and notifying suppliers of your needs well in advance of when they are required should ensure a trouble free experience allowing you to arrive at a destination relaxed and happy.

Wishing everyone a wonderful stress free summer.

Be S.M.A.R.T.

General InterestPosted by Alan Mon, February 25, 2013 14:46:31

Where does one go to for accessible travel information that is reliable, informative, accurate, etc normally one would say to my local high street travel agent or home based agent with whom I have built a good working relationship, so far so good until one realises that the agent doesn’t know much, if anything, about working with a disabled person irrespective of the disability. So now what? Well for both oneself and the agent this is where its often necessary to start searching the internet for information and to start being S.M.A.R.T..

Now for anyone who is used to creating objectives you know to make them SMART but few people try to apply the principle of SMART objectives to their research activities in seeking accessible travel services.

Specific – both client and agent need to be very specific about what is being looked for, just looking for ‘a hotel thats accessible is insufficient’, for instance what does the disabled client regard as accessible in a form that meets their needs? All too often as a specialist provider of accessible travel services we find clients who have needs not disclosed to us despite having previously explored with clients those needs in detail (a recent example being someone who needed to recharge a ventilator daily but overlooked the issue of voltage differences requiring an adaptor until they arrived at their hotel), the reason frequently is that the client didn’t think something was worth mentioning, WRONG, nothing is too trivial if it means a hassle and event free vacation and travel experience. Being specific leads to successful outcomes!

Measurable – A difficult but not insurmountable part of the equation if we view measurable as information available from sources such as cruisecritic.com Tripadvisor.com etc regarding outcomes experienced by previous disabled people who have been to or have had experience of the destination you intend to travel to. Find an informative Facebook Page about the country you’d like to visit or one offered by a specialist provider such as http://www.facebook.com/disabledaccessibletravel but make sure that the page is open and public with free and open comments not those restriced as with so many pages to just information and sales pitches by the company owning the page. Learn from the gradings people have provided for accessible services, 2/10 obviously is not as good as a rating someone has given of 8/10.

Attainable – we all have desires but are they achievable? If a destination offers an accessible hotel that appears to meet your needs can you actually get to it from the airport? This last issue is a common and overlooked area of ones travel arrangements. Frequently we receive panic calls and emails from agencies and people who have booked vacations only to find they need accessible transportation thats not been provided for them by a hotel, cruise provider etc. DO NOT make a reservation anywhere without making sure that all your objectives are attainable across the board which will takes us to the next part of SMART in a moment. When booking a cruise did you check that you can actually get of the ship for shore excursions? are shore excursions actually available and does the cruise company actually understand what you need? Ask the cruise company to prove that an accessible tour exists, ask for photos of the transport being used. Ask a hotel for photos of that all important roll-in shower, the list is endless depending on your access requirements.

Realistic – are you being realistic in what you’re looking for? Can you make or are you able to make, concessions in what you are seeking so that even if you cannot be offered what you have at home you can still get enough services to make your vacation successful. If you don’t think its possible don’t book, its as simple as that. Be realistic, few countries have the same standards of access as each other, what exists in the USA for instance is unlikely to be available to the same level in a third world country or even some first world countries yet people get very upset when they find the level of service available is not what they are used to, inevitably this is due to unrealistic expectations. Is your budget realistic for hotels, transfers, rental of equipment, tours? Private services cost more than group based services, are you prepared for this in your budget calculations?

Time bound – get your timescale worked out. There’s no point in requesting a hotel price and then waiting weeks before making a decision to make a reservation as that hotel room will more often than not no longer be available and then you are back to square one trying to locate a hotel that meets your needs. Time is important and also the Realistic element of SMART relates to it. Trying to reserve last minute tours etc can be very problematic as many locations worldwide have very limited accessible transportation, or providers of sign language etc, being SMART helps avoid disappointment. Equally early reservation of a hotel doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to get the best deal although doing your research about events at a destination that might push prices up such as a convention in the town is well worth it and can save you a lot of money. Often last minute deals are available although as few hotel websites feature the possibilty of reserving accessible rooms online these will be best located via a specialist agency. Now I’m not suggesting that working to a professional GANT chart or similar is required but following the principles of S:M:A:R:T: will go a long way to avoiding disappointment or having a vacation that turns into a disaster.

Finally for successful planning its recommended that you contact specialist travel agents or specialist travel companies for your reservations as they without exception have excellent knowledge garnered over years in business working with disabled clients.

Happy Vacations

Disabled Accessible Travel is a specialist provider of travel services to both the leisure and business traveller with disabilities. http://www.disabledaccessibletravel.com

EIBTM Day 1 (2)

General InterestPosted by Alan Tue, November 27, 2012 20:04:39
So the day was off to a good start with some accessible services being used, accessible transport services worked perfectly and I think we had very satisfied delegates.

I certainly had some surprises today especially when walking past a DMC stand from Italy from which a gentleman sprang out of his chair at great velocity and took hold of my arm, he was well over 6ft 6″ tall so you can imagine my initial reaction, ‘what have I done……?’
In fact it was a lovely reunion with a delegate who had been at my February IAPCO World Congress seminar on accessibilty compliance and he was eager to renew our acquaintance and to let me know how his company was getting on in trying to be more access aware and compliant, not neccesarily an easy task in Italy.
I came, also, across James & Phil who had interviewed me for International Meetings Review earlier this year in Paris and Christian Funk of the Conference & Incentive Management publication in Germany, lovely to see and chat with them and they showed renewed interest in the access topic and wanted to know how the Meetings and Congress Industry was shaping up.
Overall most of the contacts I had at todays EIBTM stemmed from that seminar for IAPCO back in February so its nice to know that the efforts made by IAPCO and myself had some impact, I hope the good work by these organisations keeps on going forward.

For me the highlight of the day was the superb presentation by a man I admire greatly, Corbin Ball, what he doesn’t know about media technology isn’t worth knowing, he has a crystal ball (no pun intended) that sees future trends and is never too far off the mark. Todays session highlighted how the ipod can make for a paperless office and how the use of the thousands of Apps for all types of systems will revolutionise the way we do business and he showcased some fabulous examples which left everyone in the hall pretty amazed, pre-conceptions were certainly challenged especially when Corbin predicted that in a few years lap-tops will be regarded as old ‘quaint’ tools. As ever he presented lots of information for material and resources to be obtained for free or very marginal cost. Finally Corbin gave me 20 minutes of his time for some personal mentoring after I plucked up some courage to ask him for some advice, he’s not only a great speaker but very approachable as I found out so thanks Corbin.

So that was Day 1 and all that was left was to trudge home through a major storm with local transport working to rule with limited services, lovely!!

This article is brought to you by Alan Broadbent, MD Accessible Services