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Native Hotels a finalist for access at WTTC

NATIVE Hotels is a finalist in this years World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) “Tourism for Tomorrow” Innovation Award for its work in Accessible Tourism. Set up by two journalists to promote accessible tourism, Native Hotels pays particular attention to ensuring accessible communication. Guests have access to vibrating watches with alerts and messages for deaf customers, while signage packs and door signs in Braille help the visually impaired navigate through the hotel, its rooms and bathrooms. They have recently launched a new online platform for the travel industry, which Native says is the only one to offer total accessibility, and allows users with any kind of disability to use a computer to make their holiday choices. It can be used by anyone, even if they are unable to see the screen, touch the keyboard or speak to the computer – so long as a person can blow onto a microphone, they can use the platform. For tourism to ensure it delivers its benefits to as many people as possible, everyone needs to be able to discover what is within their reach. Native’s new platform brings that world closer for many more.

What is Access Tourism

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Access Tourism is tourism, travel, hospitality, and leisure for people with disabilities, seniors, ageing Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1965) who may not be as agile as they once were, families with pushchairs, people with temporary injuries, pregnant women, travellers with heavy bags, or anyone else that might need better access to tourism products and services. Access Tourism is also known as Accessible Tourism, Inclusive Tourism, or Universal Tourism. Tourism that is accessible enables people with access requirements to “function independently and with equity and dignity through the delivery of universally designed tourism products, services, and environments” (Darcy, Cameron, & Pegg, 2010). Access Tourism is better understood – especially for those with physical disabilities – and developed overseas, and is beginning to be appreciated for economic and sustainability reasons. In New Zealand, the economic benefits that would accrue from developing Access Tourism have not been researched. Absolutely nothing is known about the number of visitors with disabilities in and to New Zealand; and little is known about their wants and needs. This is in spite of the fact that the Access Tourism market is already potentially a large one, and is set to grow. It will grow because the large Baby Boomer generation is ageing and disability increases with age (World Health Organization, 2011, p. 35). Population ageing will lead to changes in the profile of domestic and international tourism demand and tourism operators must adapt or face the real danger of losing market share (Glover and Prideaux, 2010). In order for individual businesses and destinations to be successful, they need to address the specific requirements of different markets. However, while there is an abundance of marketing segmentation studies on ethnic, age, and socio-economic sub-groups, the potential of the accessibility market is largely ignored, and research in this area is still in its infancy (Buhalis & Michopoulou, 2011). Few operators have made substantial connections between a high standard of access provision and other corporate performance indicators and the accessible tourism market is seen as low yield (Darcy, Cameron, & Pegg, 2010). Other important factors that will shape the profile of visitors are changes in family structure, with ageing Baby Boomers travelling more and also playing an increasingly important role in family travel (Schänzel & Yeoman,2015), the generational distribution of wealth, and time available to travel. Surprisingly, the potential impact of factors and demographic changes on tourism demand has received little attention from tourism researchers (Glover and Prideaux, 2010). Certainly, in New Zealand at least, demographic change has only recently been mentioned as a factor in future tourism demand. As yet, there is no move apparent by government or the upper levels of the tourism industry in New Zealand to act on that fact. The accessibility market is not homogenous as it has diverse sub-markets, with dissimilar needs and requirements. As do other sub-markets, this one has demographic, socioeconomic, psychographic, and behavioural variable. From a tourism point of view, the market sector comprising people with disabilities can be divided…

UN General Assembly holds first-ever high-level meeting on disability

United Nations General Assembly High-Level meeting adopts document seeking to promote disability-inclusive development, redress absence of disability Rights from the Millennium Development Goals The UN General Assembly has adopted a landmark outcome document ( A/68/L.1) aimed at promoting disability-inclusive development during its first-ever high-level meeting on that topic (23/9/2013). Assembly President John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) underlined the text’s significance as the instrument to guide efforts towards the creation of a fully inclusive society through 2015 and beyond. “Given the size of such a marginalized group, the onus is on us all to ensure that any future sustainable development goals include the disabled,” said Ashe. He pointed out the absence of any reference to people with disabilities in all eight Millennium Development Goals. The international community had now realized that it would be impossible to meet development targets, including the Millennium Goals, without incorporating the rights, well-being and perspective of persons with disabilities. Visit accesstourismnz.org.nz foir more information. By the text adopted, Heads of State and Government reaffirmed their resolve to work together for disability-inclusive development and for the international community’s commitment to advancing the rights of all persons with disabilities, which was deeply rooted in the goals of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. World leaders also underlined the need for urgent action by all relevant stakeholders towards the adoption and implementation of more ambitious disability-inclusive national development strategies, while expressing their resolve to undertake various commitments to address barriers, including those relating to education, health care, employment, legislation, societal attitudes, as well as the physical environment and information and communications technology. The text urged the United Nations system as well as Member States to stay engaged in efforts to realize the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development targets for persons with disabilities towards 2015 and beyond. It encouraged the international community to seize every opportunity to include disability as a cross-cutting issue on the global development agenda, including the emerging post-2015 United Nations development framework. Ashe noted that people with physical, sensory, mental and intellectual disabilities were “the world’s largest minority”, numbering more than 1 billion. “They are a diverse and varied group, each with unique gifts and abilities, and each with unique challenges,” he said. “They teach us not only lessons about love and respect, but also about persevering against the odds.” He went on to say that 134 countries had ratified or acceded to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the Assembly in 2006. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon quoted International Labour Organization (ILO) statistics showing that excluding disabled persons could cost economies as much as 7% of gross domestic product (GDP). Following the opening segment, the Assembly held two round-table discussions, the first on “International and regional cooperation and partnerships for disability inclusive development”, and the second on “The post-2015 development agenda and inclusive development for persons with disabilities”. The General Assembly reconvened on 24 September, to begin its general debate.

Any tourism business, organization, or strategy that ignores the world’s ageing population is ignoring a golden business opportunity

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The Global Agenda Council on Ageing Society report, “Global Population Ageing: Peril or Promise” points out that The global share of those 60+was 8% in 1950, 11% in 2011, and will be 22% (2 billion) in 2050 The global population is projected to increase 3.7 times from 1950 to 2050, but the 60+ will increase by a factor of nearly 10, and the 80+ by a factor of 26 Women account for about 55% of the 60+ group, rising to 64% of the 80+ group and 82% of the 100+ group. On average, women outlive men by nearly 4.5 years. Baby boomers in Asia-Pacific will account for 63% of the world’s total seniors population by 2050. They will have US$1.9 trillion in spending power. According to the latest Ageing Asia Alliance Journal (AAAJ), their spending power will significantly drive economic growth in industries such as tourism and transportation, wellness, education, finance, and healthcare. AAAJ goes on to say that “there is a need for businesses to change their mindsets in how they view grey power, and also start paying more attention towards innovation and product design with the older consumers in mind. Ageing is both a social and economic opportunity. It would be advantageous for businesses to monitor Asia Pacific’s demographic trends and also keep the ageing consumer needs in mind for their future development of products and services.” AAAJ ponts out that Asia’s ageing baby boomers are looking to age healthily, well, and independently. Businesses that understand the significance of the benefits of healthy ageing can take advantage of commercial opportunities to deliver such services as tourism and active lifestyles, and thus enable older people to stay healthier, longer and encourage social inclusion (source: Ageing Asia Alliance). Japan has one of the fastest-growing seniors populations in the world. Spending power of the over 60s in Japan is estimated at 100 trillion yen, or 44% of the nation’s entire personal spending. From cosmetics to travel, affluent retirees are spawning a host of new business opportunities. In the USA, there is no doubt about the importance of the Baby Boomer generation to business. There are 76 million American Boomers, and they control over 80% of personal financial assets, and more than 50% of discretionary spending in the USA. A Met Life study estimates that American Boomers will inherit $8.4 trillion in the next few years (with a total transfer of assets to them estimated at $11.6 trillion – Met Life). More Access ourismnz news here. In New Zealand, the Boomers are the biggest cohort, with 1.25 million members. Boomers are the biggest group of Australian and New Zealand visitors in the Asia Pacific region, and the percentage of visitors to New Zealand who are over the age of 45 slowly and steadily increases every year. Any businesses – including tourism businesses – that do not plan to cater for the ageing population (and the concomitant increase in the number of people with various types of disability) – are ignoring a golden…

Access at tourism businesses

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An assessment of 34 tourism-related businesses in Osoyoos, British Columbia Canada found that over half are not accessible for the disabled ( Paul Everest, Osoyoos Times, September 2009). A similar study in New Zealand (Rhodda, 2006 ) found that one third of such businesses were not accessible. However, the New Zealand study looked only at wheelchair access to businesses. It is probable that if access for people with sight, hearing, and other impairments had been studies, as they were in the Osoyoos project, more would have been inaccessible. The Osoyoos study involved a member of the Accessible Tourism Strategy audited 34 businesses in towns that are involved with the tourism industry. Each business was rated on a three-point scale based on accessibility for people with mobility challenges, people who are visually impaired and people who have hearing impairments. The strategy was spearheaded by 2010 Legacies Now, a provincial non-profit organization established in 2007 with a mandate to promote tourism in B.C. in the time leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Richard Molyneux, a co-director for 2010 Legacies Now’s disabilities initiative, said 65 businesses in Osoyoos were approached for the audit and agreeing to participate was on a voluntary basis. He said 17 of the 34 businesses assessed were accommodation properties such as hotels and six of them received a rating of one or more. One of 2010 Legacies Now’s goals is to promote B.C. as a premier travel destination for people with disabilities, Molyneux said, and 3,000 accessibility audits have taken place across the province since the project began. Roughly 650 million people across the globe could benefit from accessible businesses, he said. In North America alone, 58 million people could benefit from accessible businesses.

Martin Heng of Lonely Planet and accessible tourism

Guest article reprinted with permission from Lonely Planet. Martin Heng is Accessible Travel Manager at Lonely Planet. Here he writes about how he became involved in accessible tourism Travelling has always been in my blood. Perhaps I inherited it from my father, who was born in Singapore, travelled the world in the British Merchant Navy and finally settled in the UK, where I was born. I’ve lived and worked in half a dozen countries and travelled to more than 40. In the 80s and 90s I spent the best part of 10 years on the road, pausing only long enough to make enough money for the next trip. Imagine my euphoria in 1999 when I landed a job with Lonely Planet, whose books had been a constant companion across three continents over the previous decade! I’ve been with the company ever since in several different roles, including Trade Publishing Manager and Editorial Manager, overseeing the production of the entire range of printed books. I had always been very keen bike rider. At 16 I cycled from Birmingham to northern France to meet my parents there. In the 90s, I cycled with my partner round the South Island of New Zealand, around Hokkaido, in northern Japan, and made several trips in the Tokyo area when living there. I was also lucky enough to be selected to join the Lonely Planet relay team on the Tour d’Afrique, riding from Nairobi in Kenya through northern Tanzania and along Lake Malawi – a trip of some 2500 kilometres over 18 riding days. And of course I rode to work every day, a round trip of 40 km, year-round, rain or shine. And then every cyclist’s nightmare came to pass: I was hit by a car. Unfortunately, I didn’t just break a few bones; instead, I damaged my spinal cord and was left a quadriplegic. In some ways I have been lucky in that I do have some movement below the level of my injury. In fact, all my muscles do work – imperfectly and in an uncoordinated fashion – and over the last three years I have learned to walk again, albeit only with the aid of a walking frame, very slowly and over short distances. The only major trip I have undertaken was to a boot camp for paraplegics and quadriplegics in the USA, where, using the latest machinery and techniques, patients undergo 3 to 4 hours physio every day. As I started back to work, part-time at first, I started to look into what resources there were for people travelling with a disability. Surely, I thought, it should be easy in this digital age to find information on accessible accommodation and on travelling in different countries with a disability. Wrong! There is quite a lot of information out there but it isn’t easy to find – it’s all siloed in special-interest websites or hidden away on local government websites, often only in the local language. As I started to connect more with…

Lonely Planet: New Accessible Melbourne Ebook

Lonely Planet’s new Accessible Melbourne free guide provides travellers with disabilities relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see in that city. It covers Melbourne’s best wheelchair-friendly restaurants and shops, accessible sports, and scenery, food and wine along the Great Ocean Road. As usual with Lonely Planet, the authors visited every establishment reviewed so that reviews are based on personal experience. However, for this pilot project, LP augmented their authors reviews with feedback from users who are people with disabilities, and insider tips from a wide range of travellers to ensure those with mobility, hearing or vision impairment get the most out of a Melbourne holiday. This is Lonely Planet’s first ebook on accessible tourism travel, and it acknowledges that what is accessible to one may be difficult for another. The Guide suggests users use the information as a starting point to make their own enquiries for their particular situation. As usual with Lonely Planet, the authors visited every establishment reviewed so that reviews are based on personal experience.

Lonely Planet Named the World’s Top Ten Most Accessible Travel Destinations For 2016

Lonely Planet is one of the world’s most successful travel publishers, printing over 120 million guidebooks and eBooks to almost every destination on the planet in eleven different languages. This includes a number of accessible tourism guides. It also produces a range of gift and reference titles, an award-winning website and magazine and a range of digital travel products and apps. Lonely Planet has offices in the Australia, UK, USA, India and China with over 400 employees, including Martin Heng, Accessible Travel Manager. Recently, Lonely Planet named the world’s top ten most accessible travel destinations for 2016. The company recognizes that the number of people in the world who have a need for better access is already large, and that with the rapid ageing of the world’s population, there will be an impact on global business and tourism. Companies are slowly starting to realize that accessibility is not just an issue that must be addressed for those with a disability. It’s a real issue that many grey nomads are putting some extra thought into before booking their next vacation. Lonely Planet agrees that with an aging baby boomer population that isn’t willing to slow down when it comes to travel, accessibility is becoming paramount. It is with this in mind that they put together their list of the most accessible vacation destinations for 2016. The list includes: Playa del Carmen, Mexico; Barcelona, Spain; Galápagos and Amazonia, Ecuador; Sicily, Italy; Manchester, UK; Melbourne, Australia; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Singapore; San Diego, USA; and Vienna, Austria.