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News and views about  tourism, travel, and leisure that is accessible to people with disabilities, seniors, and Baby Boomers who will experience increasing disability as they age.

Blog by Sandra Rhodda, Director, Access Tourism New Zealand

Views are strictly my own

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Tourism Guides for People with Learning and Intellectual Difficulties in Europe

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The Tourist Guides for People with Learning and Intellectual Difficulties in Europe programme (T-GuIDE)is an initiative of nine organisations supported financially by the European Union’s Lifelong Learning Programme, ”Leonardo Da Vinci”.  The aim is to produce an EU training model and Manual for training Tourist Guides in guiding people who have learning difficulties or other intellectual impairments.  Many tourism destinations and businesses recognise that they must diversify and increase the quality of their products in order to reach new and wider markets. A re-orientation of the tourism sector is taking place with a focus on  ”Accessible Tourism for All”, which aims to deliver safe, comfortable and enjoyable tourism experiences for the entire tourism market, including people with disabilities, seniors and others with specific access requirements.   Tourism providers in all parts of the tourism service chain need targeted training to develop their skills, so that they can meet the particular needs of guests with learning difficulties or intellectual disabilities.  There are 8 European countries involved, as well as networks for Accessible Tourism, Social cooperatives and Foundations involved in tourism, the Federation of Tourist Guides, and several universities.

Main T-GuIDE outputs include:  A discussion document on methodologies for tourist inclusion of intellectually disabled people;  Draft T-GuIDE Manual with good practices and methodologies for intellectually disabled;  Training of 18 tourist guides in the EU, using the Draft T-GuIDE Manual (test and refine);  An  EU training model and T-GUIDE Manual (final version);  A framework of skills for training and skills assessment of “T-GuIDEs” at EU level;  A Trial of a Tourist Itinerary for visitors with intellectual disabilities/learning difficulties.

The T-GuIDE project is supported through the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme, “Leonardo da Vinci”, Transfer of Innovation.   Source: T-GuIDE.  Follow on Twitter: @EUaccesstourism

Surge in wellness tourism, says LuxGuide

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THE wellness travel sector will enjoy a big surge in interest in the coming years, says LuxGuide editor Deborah Dickson-Smith. This is because more people realise the key to long term health is in their own hands, globalisation is opening doors for consumers to more lifestyle philosophies and treatments, and ageing baby boomers are looking to extend their years of good health.    As more people adopt healthier lifestyles, tourism operators and travel agents should expect to see more clients who want to incorporate this into their holidays. Twitter: @LuxperienceAU @where2nextblog

Economic Impact and Travel patterns of Accessible Tourism in Europe

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The final summary report of one of three studies commissioned in Accessible Tourism in Europe has been released.  The report is by the European Commission, DG Enterprise and Industry (DG ENTR) in 2012-2013 and aims to build a comprehensive picture of Accessible Tourism in the European Union (EU). The survey was conducted by GfK Belgium, the University of Surrey, NeumannConsult and ProAsolutions. The main aim of the study is to better understand demand for Accessible Tourism in order to guide policy-making in this field. For this purpose, five main research objectives were identified:

  1.  To examine the current and future demand for Accessible Tourism in Europe and beyond
  2.  To investigate the travel patterns and behaviours of, and information provision for people with access needs
  3. To evaluate the tourist experience across different tourism sectors from demand and supply-side perspectives
  4.  To estimate the current and future economic contribution of Accessible Tourism and its impact on employment
  5. To propose recommendations and success factors to improve the supply of Accessible Tourism offers.

The study results show that the accessible tourism demand by people with special access needs from the EU currently generates a total economic contribution of 786 billion Euros in terms of total output and 356 billion Euros in terms of gross value added or 394 billion Euros in terms of GDP within the EU. This scale is equivalent to about 3% of total GDP of EU27 in 2012.   In addition, the people with special access needs from the 11 key international inbound markets generated a total economic contribution of 34 billion Euros in terms of total output and 15 billion Euros in terms of gross value added or 17 billion Euros in terms of GDP to the EU.

The objectives of the study were translated into five key tasks whose key findings are presented.  Key predictions include that by 2020 the demand for EU accessible tourism by people within the EU will continue to grow to about 862 million trips/year, while demand  by the key international inbound market will reach 21 million trips/year.  If EU tourism destinations were improved so that almost complete accessibility of buildings, hotels, restaurants, museums, and various accessible services were available, the study showed that demand would increase almost 44% against the baseline, so that trips by EU residents would by 2020 rise to 1, 231 million trips/year.  The rise amongst people from key international markets would rise by almost 77%.  This could potentially result in 36 million trips/year by 2020.  In economic terms, this rise could translate into a rise of 39% in economic contribution. 

 Source: Miller, G (2014).  Economic Impact and Travel patterns of Accessible Tourism in Europe   Service Contract SI2.ACPROCE052481700 European Commission, DG Enterprise and Industry.  https://www.academia.edu/7606067/Economic_Impact_and_Travel_Patterns_of_Accessible_Tourism_in_Europe

 Follow on Twitter: @UKguchan

Hilton Pattaya earns Thailand Accessible Tourism Award 2013

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Hilton Pattaya Thailand has received the 2013 Thailand Accessible Tourism Award certified by Department of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Thailand (TSPT). The award is presented to hotels that exemplify a high standard of universal design and provide accessibility to all guests including the elderly, people with disabilities, and anyone needing easy access such as pregnant women, parents with pushchairs, and travellers with luggage.  “We attempt to offer those guest facilities and the finest in hospitality, service and dining for memorable experience.” said Rudolf Troestler, general manager, Hilton Pattaya.   Hilton Pattaya is one of Hilton Worldwide’s managed properties in Thailand and is located in the heart of the city overlooking Pattaya Beach and the Bay. 

For information about accessible travel in Thailand, visit Accessible Thailand

Follow on Twitter: @HiltonPattaya @AccessThailand

Biggest tourism and travel spenders are the Baby Boomers

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Tourism Review (http://www.tourism-review.com/) recently carried out a survey of travel agencies and professionals in the tourism industry to get their opinions on changing trends with travel, consumer expectations, and booking.  They came up with seven important trends and their likely effects.  One of these was the fact that it is Baby Boomers – those in their late forties to mid sixties – who are the biggest spenders.  TR notes that for any tourism business, be they hotel, travel agency, or airline, it is crucial to keep up with trends in spending and technology in order to stay ahead of the competition and retain their evolving consumer base.  Businesses within the sector need to keep an eye on where their revenue is coming from.  Spending habits tend to be separated into generations and while agencies focus on attracting the youth market, they only account for 9% of travel expenditure in the last year.  It is the Baby Boomers spending the most, bringing in 60% of the revenue.

Follow on Twitter: @Tourism_Review

Glastonbury praised over access for deaf and disabled fans

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The huge Glastonbury Festival has been praised for its access for deaf and disabled fans in a BBC report (Tom Bateman).   The event is a five-day music festival that takes place near Pilton, Somerset, England. In addition to contemporary music, the festival hosts dance, comedy, theatre, circus, cabaret, and other arts.   This year’s Festival was the first ever to be awarded “gold” status by campaigners who want better access for deaf and disabled people at concerts and music venues.  The festival site includes accessible showers and toilets and is staffed by volunteers who provide wheelchair hire and a minibus service to help people move around the festival site.  It also has a “high-dependency” unit which can give people with serious illnesses access to sterile toilet, washing and medical facilities.  Festival organisers said the award was a sign of how “society is changing the way it thinks and acts towards disability”.  The event had a bespoke campsite for deaf and disabled festival-goers, uses raised “viewing platforms” for wheelchair users at 11 stages and employs sign language interpreters to allow deaf people to understand lyrics during live acts.  Gideon Feldman from the charity Attitude is Everything, which made the award earlier this year, says Glastonbury has taken disabled access “incredibly seriously”.  “There are an awful lot more deaf and disabled people [than there used to be] who feel that this is a festival they want to come to.”

One of Glastonbury’s regular features is its DeafZone area, which offers lessons in British Sign Language and a team of interpreters for deaf people to access acts across the festival site.  This year two sign language interpreters were used during Blondie’s performance on the Other Stage on Friday afternoon.  Jo Stevens, a support worker for deaf people in Bath, has been working at the festival and says she has a hearing problem which means she struggles to understand lyrics in music.  “I really like to be able to understand what is going on, what is happening,” says Ms Stevens.

The biggest changes to accessibility for deaf and disabled people at Glastonbury have taken place over the past seven years.  Claire Elsam, the festival’s access co-ordinator, says Glastonbury is working to make more progress but thinks it has helped “change attitudes” towards disability.  “It amazes me that there are still venues that could quite easily be changed and still aren’t being changed,” she says.  “Certainly when it comes to other festivals there are far smaller and easier sites that people can make accessible but they don’t necessarily do that.  Campaigners acknowledge that cost is often a barrier to music venues becoming more accessible to disabled people.  But Attitude is Everything argues that venues may be missing out on ticket sales, with four out of five deaf and disabled people saying they are put off going to events as they lack confidence in sites being accessible.

Source: BBC Radio 4.  Follow on Twitter: @GlastoFest @BBCr4today @attitudetweets

£370m Scottish Accessible Tourism Market to get a boost with free online customer service training

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A new £45,000 online training programme will help Scotland’s hotels, visitor attractions, pubs,  and restaurants better cater for the requirements of people with access needs including those with physical, sensory or learning disabilities, elderly visitors and parents with small children.  Scotland’s Minister for Tourism, Fergus Ewing officially launched the first phase of the e-learning Accessible Tourism Course at a visit to the Crowne Plaza in Glasgow on 23 June.  With the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in August, VisitScotland and its partners believe the programme will ensure all visitors to the City, regardless of their access needs, receive a world-class welcome.  Free of charge, the initiative will be available to all Scottish businesses. Ryder Cup Europe has already agreed to use the course as part of its customer service training for Marshalls and Access Buddies ahead of the global event in September at Gleneagles.

As well as promoting good practice, the training will a provide users with a better understanding of the requirements of this growing market.  Training is split into four categories: accommodation, visitor attractions, restaurants and catering, and pubs and bars.  Accessible tourism was recently valued at more than £370m to the Scottish economy, an increase of £37m since 2009. The rise demonstrates the huge potential economic benefits to hundreds of businesses and services across the country of catering for this market.   Tourism Minister Ewing said at the launch of the training that everyone should have the chance to enjoy all that Scotland has to offer. “Improving accessibility has real potential to help achieve tourism industry growth ambitions and boost the wider economy, as well as enhancing social equalities.”

Chris McCoy, VisitScotland Accessible Tourism Scotland project manager, said: “2014 is the year we welcome the world and we want to make sure everybody receives the same warm Scottish welcome. However, we know that poor customer service and a lack of accurate information are among the most common barriers facing visitors with access needs. This project is designed to help equip employees and managers with the skills and knowledge they may need to welcome all visitors, regardless of their access needs. We hope through innovative online tools such as this, we can position Scotland as a country with world-class accessible tourism facilities, offering more choice as well as excellent customer service.”

In the run up to the Commonwealth Games, the Accessible Glasgow Tourism project, an official Glasgow 2014 legacy project which links to the wider Accessible Tourism Scotland project, is encouraging business to realise the potential economic benefits of the Accessible Tourism market by developing an ‘Access Statement’.  An access statement offers visitors with access needs a clear description through words and pictures of the facilities and services they can expect during their trip. Creating an access statement is often the first step to making a business more accessible.

For more information about accessible tourism and to access the training course:  www.visitscotland.org/accessible-tourism-training.  Source: VisitScotland.  Follow on Twitter: @VisitScotlandNews @FergusEwingMSP @rydercupEUROPE @Capability_Scot

EU opens Access City Awards 2015

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The European Commission has opened the competition for the fifth ‘Access City Award 2015′, the European Award for Accessible Cities. The annual prize recognises and celebrates cities for their efforts to make it easier for the disabled and older people to gain access to public areas such as housing, children’s play areas, public transport or communication technologies.   Making Europe more accessible to those with disabilities is a key part of the EU’s overall disability strategy 2010-2020, which provides the general framework for action in the area of disability and accessibility at EU level to complement and support Member States’ action .  Since 2010, 171 cities have participated so far in the 4 previous Access City Award. The Award is part of the EU’s wider efforts to create a barrier-free Europe: improved accessibility brings lasting economic and social benefits to cities, especially in the context of demographic ageing. Cities with at least 50,000 inhabitants have until 10 September 2014 to submit their entries for the award.   EC Vice-President Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Justice said that people with disabilities still face too many barriers in everyday life, which is why the EU has placed accessibility at the centre of their strategy for building a barrier-free Europe.  “The Access City award allows cities across Europe to showcase their efforts in making life more accessible for all!” said Reding.  “I am pleased to see that there are so many good practices shown by European cities – accessibility offers new business opportunities and can be a real stimulus for innovation and growth. I encourage all European cities to participate in this excellent European initiative and help make Europe more accessible for all”

The Access City Award is given to the city that has demonstrably and sustainably improved accessibility in fundamental aspects of city living, and that has concrete plans for further improvements. The Award covers actions in the areas of:

1. Built environment and public spaces; 2. Transport and related infrastructures; 3. Information and communication, including new technologies (ICTs); and 4. Public facilities and services.

Previous Access City Award winners include Avila Spain,  Salzburg Austria,  Berlin Germany, and Gothenburg (Sweden).  

Source:  EU release.   Follow on Twitter: @EU_Justce @VivianeRedingEU 

EU Commission ‘Mainstreaming Accessibility’ Across All European Tourism Policies

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