Lonely Planet names 10 Most Accessible Vacation Destinations for 2016

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Lonely Planets Accessible Melbourne front cover street sceneLonely 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.

Follow on Twitter: @lonelyplanet @Martin_Heng


Accessible Tourism the theme for this year’s UN World Tourism Day

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Tourism for all - Promoting universal accesibility

For the last quarter–century World Tourism Day, held annually on 27 September, has aimed to foster awareness of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic impact. This year’s official celebrations will be held in Bangkok, Thailand on the theme of ‘Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility.   “Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis. Yet 1 billion people around the world living with disability, along with young children, seniors and persons with other access requirements, still face obstacles in accessing fundamentals of travel such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate. Even with modern technologies, those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments are being left behind in many tourism destinations.” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in his official message (http://wtd.unwto.org/content/official-messages-world-tourism-day-0).

“All of the world’s citizens have the right to experience the incredible diversity this planet has to offer. Therefore, it is highly important that all countries and destinations, as well as the industry, promote accessibility for all in the physical environment, in transport systems, in public facilities and services and in information and communications channels”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai (http://wtd.unwto.org/content/official-messages-world-tourism-day-0).  “This year’s theme, ‘Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility’, is a challenge for Thailand and the world to recognize the necessity of accessibility in tourism and to accommodate everyone anywhere they may travel to (…) We have to understand the theory of Universal Design (…) As the world of travel and tourism is an expanding industry and the number of travelers increases every year, we have to ensure that travelling the world has to is as safe and seamless as possible,” explained Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand.

The official celebrations include a ‘Tourism and the Media’ session held on 26th September at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, and a full-day conference (http://wtd.unwto.org/content/official-celebrations) the following day. During the event, experts on accessibility and tourism will exchange views and best practices, addressing the need to work in cooperation to advance in the ‘Tourism for All’ agenda.

Creating an adequate policy framework for specific business development strategies, the need to increase awareness and capacity building targeting both decision makers and tourism professionals are some of the topics to be addressed during the conference. Andrew Stevens, Asia Pacific Editor of CNNMoney, will moderate this discussion.

The conference will also address innovative strategies in the development of accessible tourism infrastructure, products and services which add value to destinations and enhance their competitiveness on the global tourism market. A number of best practices will be featured with the aim of emphasizing the value of investing in accessibility.

The celebrations of World Tourism Day 2016 are being held in collaboration with CNN, UNWTO media partner.

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Accessible tourism forum brings together government boards from across UK, Europe

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Representatives of more than 20 tourism organisations from around Europe will gather in Edinburgh to raise the level of accessible tourism expertise across the continent.  Jointly organised by the European Network for Accessible Tourism (http://www.accessibletourism.org/), VisitScotland (https://www.visitscotland.com/)and VisitFlanders (http://www.visitflanders.com/), the ‘Aiming for Inclusive Growth’ forum is designed to share best practice.

Bringing together the most experienced countries and regions in the field of accessible tourism, the event will give participants the chance to present their policies and achievements, as well as share ideas on how to raise their game in the years ahead.Items on the agenda will include discussion on an overall strategy for accessible tourism development, industry engagement and customer engagement.

Last year, Scotland’s accessible tourism market was estimated to be worth more than £1.3 billion. To capitalise on this market and make it easier for visitors to identify businesses which can cater for their access requirements, VisitScotland and VisitEngland (https://www.visitengland.com/) have been developing a new website which will not only help businesses create their own Accessibility Guide but also allow visitors to search and locate suitable venues for their holiday.

Guest speakers at the two-day event include Chris McCoy, Equality and Diversity Manager at VisitScotland, Kiki MacDonald, founder of the accessible review website Euan’s Guide (https://www.euansguide.com/), and Charlotte Vella, Accessibility Officer at VisitParis (http://pro.visitparisregion.com/Optimisation-de-vos-prestations/Accessibilite).

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, who will provide the opening address, said: “Accessible tourism provides an equal opportunity for disabled people, older people, families with young children and those with temporary or hidden disabilities to be part of the tourism experience. Accessible tourism means families can visit somewhere together, with no-one having to be left out. In Scotland we are committed to making this vision a reality by ensuring a fair, inclusive and equal society, enabling everyone to have the same opportunities.

“The latest 2015 accessible tourism figures confirm the economic importance of the accessible tourism market to Scotland, with an estimated £1.3 billion spent on trips. The Scottish Government has invested £38,000 to support the accessible and inclusive market specifically by delivering three projects to boost the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.”

McCoy said: “VisitScotland’s Accessible Tourism Project aims to harness the growing, high-value accessible tourism market and for Scotland to become internationally recognised as a leading destination for people with access needs. The Scottish tourism industry has made great progress in terms of accessibility over the past few years, but we know there is still much work to be done. We are delighted to be able to showcase exactly what this country has to offer but we are also keen to learn from experts from the likes of France, Denmark and Sweden.

“Aiming for Inclusive Growth will give countries across Europe food for thought about how they can improve their tourism product for those visitors who have specific access requirements, such as disabled people, senior travellers and families with young children, with the ultimate goal of making our holiday destinations accessible to everyone.”

Anna Grazia Laura, President of ENAT, said: “Europe is the biggest tourism magnet in the world and has very high quality tourism products that visitors can enjoy. Yet all countries need to put more focus on making sure that tourism and travel is accessible for everyone, including people with disabilities and the senior market, as these are key growth markets for the future.”

“Given the huge size of the accessible tourism market in Europe, which is worth over 130 Billion Euros per year, there are certainly enough customers to go round. People with disabilities are yearning to enjoy tourism and travel the way everyone else can but accessible tourism products are in short supply. The challenge all tourist boards face is to improve the quality of destinations and offers, making sure that all the suppliers are working towards better access along the whole tourism supply chain.”

Peter De Wilde, CEO of Visit Flanders, said: “In the last 15 years, Visit Flanders has developed many instruments to increase the accessibility of tourist facilities in Flanders, Belgium. As time passes, the tourism sector in Flanders is moving in the right direction. Yet the goal has by no means been reached. A sustained effort is needed in all areas: investment, awareness raising, providing information and promotion. With the experience gained, further work on an Accessible Flanders will be carried out step by step.

“Several projects of destination development, like the one for the Great War commemoration, in the coastal area and in Bruges fit perfectly within the strategic goal of Visit Flanders of improving the international reputation of Flanders as a tourist destination and developing it into a quality, exciting and sustainable destination, also for people with a disability.

Follow on Twitter: @VisitScotland @VisitEngland @EUaccesstourism @toerisme_vla @EuansGuide @VisitParisIdf

For more information on accessible tourism in Scotland, go to www.visitscotland.org/accessible-tourism.aspx

Source: http://www.accessibletourism.org/?i=enat.en.news.1970


UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism: from international convention to binding international law?

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Participants at the UNWTO in Spain

The 17th meeting of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics (WCET), held at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) headquarters in Madrid, Spain on 26-27 April 2016 discussed the advances in the process of conversion of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET) into an international convention and reiterated the importance of transforming the Code into legally binding international law.    The WCTE is the independent body responsible for overseeing the implementation of the GCET), and is a subsidiary organ of the UNWTO General Assembly.    The process of transformation is led by a group of UNWTO Member States which is currently drafting the text of the convention to be presented to the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly to be held in China in 2017.

Stressing the relevance of adopting a convention on Tourism Ethics, Pascal Lamy, Chair of the Ethics Committee and former Director General of the World Trade Organization, said “Transforming the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics into an international convention represents a major step forward in ensuring that tourism development is a force for good in our societies and UNWTO Members States are committed to this objective.

Over the course of the two-day meeting, the Committee debated how to increase the awareness of the GCET and its core values such as accessibility for all, child protection and the obligations of tourism service providers in the field of safety and security standards in tourist accommodation and beach water sports.   As the organ responsible for promoting and monitoring the implementation of the GCET, the Committee commended the growing number of companies and trade associations that have adhered to the Private Sector Commitment to the Code. By April 2016, a total of 452 signatories from 64 countries had committed to promote and implement the Code in their business operations, including just one from New Zealand: The Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ).


UNWTO Ethics and Social Responsibility Programme

World Committee on Tourism Ethics

UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism

UNWTO Private Sector Commitment to the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism

Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO

USA Disability Rate 12.6%

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Cover of the “2015 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium” USA

The USA Annual Disability Statistics Compendium is available from the University of New Hampshire website. This is a web-based tool that pools disability statistics published by various federal agencies together in one place.  The Compendium shows that the overall rate of disability in the US population in 2014 was 12.6%. The percentage of those with a disability in the United States civilian population rose from 11.9 in 2010 to 12.6 in 2013 and 2014.  Rates of disability increase with age. In 2014, in the population under 5 years old, less than 1.0% of the population had a disability. For the population ages 5-17, the rate was 5.4%. For ages 18-64, the rate was 10.5%. For people ages 65 and older, 36.0% had a disability.  In 2014, of the US population with disabilities, forty percent (40.7%) of people with disabilities were 65 and older.  All disability types (hearing, vision, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, and independent living) have increases in disability percentages with age, however cognitive shows the least change between age groups.

Hearing disability is connected strongly with age: there are very low percentages in the under 5 and 5-17 age groups (0.5% and 0.6% respectively), rising to 2.1% of 18-64 year olds, and to 15.0% of those ages 65 and over.    Vision disability also is connected strongly with age. Only 0.5% of children under 5, 0.8% of the 5-17 age group, and 1.9% of 18-64 year olds had a vision disability. For those 65 and over, the percentage increases to 6.7%.  The national prevalence percentage for civilians with cognitive disabilities increases with age, starting at 4.1% for those age 5-17, rising to 4.4% for those 18-64, and jumping to 9.1% for those ages 65 and over.  the percentage of ambulatory disability increases rapidly with age. In those ages 5-17, the rate was a very low 0.6%.  For those in the working age (18-64 year olds), the rate jumps to 5.2%.  The rate then leaps to 23.0% for those ages 65 and over.  As with the other disabilities, the national percentage of civilians with a self-care disability rises with age (Figure 27).  The percentage was 1.0% for those ages 5-17, 1.9% for those ages 18-64, and 8.4% for those 65 and over.  The national percentage for independent living disability for civilians ages 18-64 was 3.7%. For those 65 and over, however, the percentage skyrockets to 15.2% (or nearly 1 in 7).

References: Kraus, Lewis. (2015). 2015 Disability Statistics Annual Report. Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire.   Follow on Twitter: @UNHIOD @Dialogue4Health

Oyster Accessible Travel New Zealand

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Oyster Accessible Travel New Zealand came about when three motivated women joined forces with their own funds to build a better accessible world for tourism in New Zealand.   They told Access Tourism New Zealand: “We saw a need and wanted to make a difference”   In this guest article, Kimberly Graham and Maddy Widdowson write about setting up this service.

Wheelchair waiting to be loaded onto a plane


Kimberly Graham writes: –

“Our family loves to travel and see new places. I worked for years in front-line tourism in New Zealand’s South Island before moving north to Auckland to start my family. My first child Finlay, who is now 11, was born with Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Travelling and visiting family in the South Island was becoming harder to achieve and needed a lot of planning. Our biggest hurdle was suitable accommodation, equipment hire and adaptive transport. Within closed groups on social media it soon became evident we weren’t alone with these frustrations. That is where my vision for a ‘one-stop shop’ travels resource for people with access needs started. There was an obvious need and no one was doing it in New Zealand”

Oyster Accessible Travel started to take form when Jill Goddard (Kim’s cousin) introduced Kim to her friend Maddy Widdowson.

Maddy Widdowson writes: –

“Last year I finished my career as an Occupational Health and Safety Specialist and decided to set off on a 6 month trip to Europe with my husband. Just before leaving my friend Jill called and wanted to introduce me to her cousin Kim. She apparently had an idea that Jill thought I might like to be a part of. I became instantly drawn in to her vision of a much needed travel resource for people with access needs. I saw everything I love doing sitting in front of me – making a difference, research, project planning and New Zealand, the country I adopted 15 years ago. The three of us collaborated and with limited funds we built on the vision that it is Oyster Accessible Travel today”

Getting down to business and formulating the Oyster Plan!

We intend New Zealand to become the ‘Pearl in the Oyster’ for accessible travel.

The key was to provide a resource that provided everything the user needed at their fingertips. We didn’t want to be a website full of links to other sites. We want our users to find the information they need in one place.

It was also important we created an interactive website that talked and discussed access needs regularly with its users. Everyone’s access needs are different and having a diverse sector of community to cater for was going to be the challenge. We knew feedback and a review system played an essential part for the site. Detailed descriptions backed up by photographs a must. Our mission is to encourage people to travel more by making the planning stage easier and giving them the assurance they needed.

Another key element to our website is the ability to BOOK the access room in a selected accommodation! Access rooms are generally not advertised for whatever reason the provider has. This means, as a guest with access needs you are never quite sure whether your comments are read or your call is properly logged and processed.

Oyster was launched on 1st March 2016 and it is now packed with information!

Oyster Accessible Travel New Zealand provides a comprehensive booking site and travel guide for both domestic and international travellers who travel with extra mobility needs. It covers the following categories: –

* Accessible Accommodation

* ‘Things to do’

* Accessible Walks

* Transport

* Adaptive Equipment Hire

* Downloadable Maps and Brochures on access facilities

* Interactive Blog, Review System and Newsletter

* And lots more!

Oyster NZ encourages positive travel information, products and experiences. It welcomes feedback to build an essential window into New Zealand’s accessible world.

Oyster’s future plans!

Our vision is big!

* We intend to visit all listed accommodation to provide verification that the information stated by the business is correct. In doing this we will be able spread the knowledge of what true access means for people with extra mobility needs.

* We will have all our regions covered with detailed accessibility descriptions and photographs where possible.

* We will continue to encourage feedback, discussion and hope that our review system will become utilised by everyone.

* We will be working in collaboration  with other disability and tourism organisations to make New Zealand the number one accessible destination of the world!

* We will customise packages for the access tourist who requires that little bit more!

Social change is big at present worldwide and over the last 5 years has been steadily growing in New Zealand. We want to help with that positive change and breakdown the barriers society puts up!

Follow on Twitter: @oyster_nz @Maddy_oysternz @kim4oyster

UK: South West tourism awards for Access and Inclusivity

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Photograph of the Baths showing a rectangular area of greenish water surrounded by yellow stone buildings with pillars. In the background is the tower of the abbey.

Congratulations must go to the Roman Baths in Bath and to the Calvert Trust in Exmoor for winning the Gold Award for Access and Inclusivity at the South West Tourism Awards (UK).     The Roman Baths also won the prestigious Winner of Winners award.   The awards were presented at a ceremony at Exeter Cathedral on February 4 (2016).   The Roman Baths is one of the finest historic sites in Northern Europe, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK.   Run by the Heritage Services section of Bath & North East Somerset Council, it attracts around one million visitors a year – making it one of the most visited heritage attractions in the United Kingdom.  In 2011 the Roman Baths completed a £5.5 million redevelopment to transform its accessibility, bring the best of modern interpretation to the site, and preserve it for the next 100 years. This is the first phase of an on-going programme of development that will continue over the next seven years.

The Roman Baths were recognised for its efforts to welcome all types of visitors and particular praise was given to the British Sign Language (BSL) trained staff, BSL audio tours, large print leaflets, use of braille on exhibits and online information for people with claustrophobia.   The provision for wheelchair users was also praised, including the availability of wheelchairs for visitors to borrow, lowered ticket office counters and accessible toilets. The assessors also noted the high level of training for all staff.

Bath Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “The Roman Baths constantly strives to improve accessibility for all visitors and local people.  “There have been many efforts made to ensure the historic site can be enjoyed by everyone, including staff training, information provision, and improvements to the building, such as the recent addition of new lifts.  We are delighted that these efforts have been recognised with both of these South West Tourism Awards. They are a testament to the fantastic customer service that the staff provides.”

Disabled Holidays: Archery

The Calvert Trust Exmoor runs the only 5 star activity centre in the country, and caters for people with physical, sensory and learning disabilities of all ages and levels of ability, together with their families, friends and carers. Activities on offer include sailing, horse riding, wheelchair abseiling, accessible cycling and archery. Almost 4,000 guests had a residential break with Calvert Trust Exmoor last year.

Tony Potter, Chief Executive of Calvert Trust Exmoor said “This (the award) is fantastic news that rewards all the hard work that the team at Calvert Trust Exmoor consistently put in;  we are so pleased to be recognised for delivering an excellent experience for anyone and everyone,  of any ability or age.”

The Roman Baths and the Calvert Trust have also been shortlisted for the Access for All Tourism Award in Visit England‘s Awards for Excellence, winners for which will be announced on Tuesday, March 8.

Follow on Twitter: @RomanBathsBath @CalvertTrust @VisitEngland @swtourismawards #SWTA

Dubai Forum on Accessible Tourism

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In October, The Dubai Inclusive Development Forum took place.  The Forum included international experts in the field of Accessible Tourism, and sessions considered best practices and opportunities for inclusive tourism to thrive, not only in Dubai but across the Gulf region.  Contributors included Dr Ivor Ambrose, consultant and managing director at European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT); Rehabilitation International, New York, secretary general, Venus IIagan; and Victor Calise, commissioner, New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.  Present where a number of local hotel operators.

The Forum heard that there is a growing population of people with disabilities, believed to be about one billion people worldwide. They are looking to travel, and the onus is on TAs, governments of countries, suppliers and most importantly the hotels, to provide easy accessibility.  Research from VisitEngland notes that accessible tourism in that country accounts for 14% of the overnight hotel occupancy with growth in the value of three time that of tourism in total.

Although the industry is driven by the private sector, governments have a major role in regulating the travel and tourism of a country. “Governments ensure there are laws in place for accessibility. When a place is being built, for example, it needs to be accessible ready. New York had 54 million visitors last year, do we know how many of those were people with disabilities? A lot of surveys and studies need to be done by government, which at this point is not too frequent,” said Calise.

Hotelier Middle East contacted a few hotels to discuss the issue, and operators seem to have geared themselves up to match up to the supply of inclusive tourists. Salalah Rotana Resort general manager Hossam Kamal said: “A number of rooms in the resort have been designed specially to accommodate guests with disabilities and elderly guests. All rooms are located on the ground floor making them easily accessible by wheelchair. Room amenities have been positioned lower for easy reach such as the key card slot, lighting control switches, towel rack, storage cabinets and wardrobe.”    The Ajman Palace Hotel in the United Arab Emirates has a slightly different approach. The hotel goes all out to ensure they pamper their guests, offering them deluxe rooms located near the elevator for easy access.  “We have special Braille telephones with jumbo dial pads, Deafgard vibrator pillow alarms and vibrator room alarms that help guests enjoy a comfortable stay,” said Ferghal Purcell, general manager of the Ajman Palace Hotel.

Illaghan and Calise stressed the importance of adequate training amongst hotel staff to best serve tourists with disabilities. It is evident that hotel operators have sensed the market and are providing adequate facilities for tourists looking to travel.  The Millennium Airport Hotel Dubai for example notifies the staff at Dubai Airport to keep a wheelchair on hand as soon as a relevant booking has been made. The hotel staff is in constant communication with the airport representatives and the latter ensures that the reception and bell boy are geared up to offer dedicated service to the incoming guest.  The hotel’s general manager Simon Moore said “Priority is given for guests with special needs in order to fully satisfy their requirement.”   Dusit Thani Dubai has a well-defined programme in place. Aside from the ‘Disability Awareness Training Programme’ conducted, the hotel has 25 first aiders who are trained for emergency situations.   An Emergency Response Team (ERT) is also in place at the hotel. Front liners are also trained on how to welcome, check-in and out and escort guests who are physically challenged. Guests who require special attention are discussed during daily morning operation briefings and are written on the ERT board, a company spokesperson told Hotelier.

Calise was impressed with Dubai, and the potential and promise that comes with a developing city.  “Dubai has a great opportunity to market Expo 2020 as the first fully accessible World Expo” he said.

Source: Hotelier Middle East.  Follow on Twitter: @EUaccesstourism @ri_global @NYCCalise @NYCDisabilities @VisitEngland @DubaiExpo2020 @HotelierME

Edinburgh sees 2016 conference as a huge opportunity to enhance the city as an accessible destination

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Scotland Edinburgh Castle

Business tourism leaders in Edinburgh have hailed an international event they say will play a crucial role in cementing the city’s reputation as an accessible destination that welcomes disabled and disadvantaged visitors.   Scotland’s capital city has been selected as the host city for the Rehabilitation International 23rd World Congress (R.I. World Congress) in October 2016. The four-day event will bring more than 1,000 delegates to Edinburgh and an estimated economic impact of over £2million.  Jointly led by Convention Edinburgh and host venue, the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), the winning bid not only showcased the city’s strong business tourism offering, but ensured the Edinburgh’s accessible credentials were at its core. From Edinburgh’s transport providers and its compact size, to the considered approach to accessibility by the EICC and city businesses, Rehabilitation International leaders agreed Edinburgh was the best fit for its conference and delegates’ needs.

Chris McCoy, who heads up the accessible tourism project at VisitScotland (Scotland’s national tourism organization), said: “VisitScotland has been working to promote accessible tourism in Scotland for some time now [for an example, see here]. There are parts of Scotland that have embraced accessibility and Edinburgh is preparing for a big International Rehabilitation World Congress in October 2016. We are working with tourism businesses throughout the city to produce access statements, which give visitors a full description in words and pictures of the facilities available. The Royal Yacht Britannia and the Royal Botanic Gardens, for example, have produced excellent access statements.   VisitScotland has been working closely with Euan’s Guide for the last year and we are keen to establish such great partnerships with the ultimate aim of an accessible Edinburgh.” Euan’s Guide is a listings and review website that helps disabled people and their families know which venues are truly accessible.

Lesley Williams, head of business tourism, Convention Edinburgh said: “In many ways, the compact size and solid transport connections for Edinburgh make it an incredibly accessible city, a key reason why the RI World Congress, event planners selected the city to host its high profile global conference in October 2016. That said, there is a huge opportunity for more to be done to make Edinburgh, its shops, restaurants, hotels and attractions, more user-friendly for everyone. Next year’s Rehabilitation International World Congress is set to be an incredible catalyst, providing a focus and structured timeline for improving Edinburgh’s accessibility. The coming months will see a solid programme of training workshops and focused collaboration that will raise awareness, provide insights and offer practical assistance for businesses to improve their customer offering. The city is coming together, working with VisitScotland, The Shaw Trust, our members and Euan’s Guide, to create a legacy of improved services and inclusive-customer experience, for all its visitors and residents. This is a legacy we want to live on long after the World Congress comes to an end.”

Joel Charles, a spokesperson for Shaw Trust Scotland, said: “Shaw Trust Scotland is a charity committed to ensuring disabled people can lead independent lives. We are privileged to be hosting the Rehabilitation International World Congress in Edinburgh next year. The World Congress brings together a global network of member countries who work to promote the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities or health problems. Shaw Trust Scotland is working closely with Edinburgh City Council, Convention Edinburgh, VisitScotland and Transport Scotland to make sure accessibility issues are not a barrier encountered by disabled delegates at next year’s World Congress.”

Source: Conference News.   Follow on Twitter: @ri_global @VisitScotland @conventions @eicc  @ShawTrust

Endeavour Safaris – World Travel Market winner for accessible accommodation

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This year’s World Travel Market (WTM) World Responsible Tourism award for best accessible accommodation has been shared this year by Scandic Hotels and Endeavour Safaris.  Scandic’s win has already been celebrated on this website (here).  WTM – held in London each year on World Responsible Tourism Day – is the largest travel and tourism event in the world. The accessible tourism award is sponsored by Enable Holidays, which was established in 2004 as the first UK tour operator to be accredited for its competence in auditing the accessibility and grading the suitability of accommodation abroad for people with mobility impairments

Endeavour Safaris is a tour operator based in Northern Botswana, but offering safaris to Namibia, South Africa, Victoria Falls, Mozambique, and elsewhere.   In addition to the journeys they create for all their clients, they have a unique division that specializes in accessible travel for persons with disabilities: including mobility-, visual-, and hearing impairment, as well as persons requiring oxygen or kidney dialysis.   Guests on mobile safaris sleep in specially designed, state of the art, luxury safari tents.  Clients travel to different places throughout the holiday, including remote spots such as the islands of the Okavango Delta where they can camp under the stars after a day on safari. Inclusivity is at the core of Endeavour Safari’s work, taking accessible tourism away from niche to norm and showing that tourism accommodation, even in the wildest of environments, can be enjoyed by nearly all tourists. Access requirements include mobility, visual, hearing, or medical issues. And with inclusivity at the core of what they do, their vision is to also have people with and without disabilities working alongside each other within the business too, particularly with the forthcoming opening of their 100% inclusive Lodge, where integration will be continue to be the inspiring ethos.

Follow on Twitter: @EndeavourSafari @enableholidays @WTM_London @RTAwards

USA: New wheelie travel guide

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Cover of 20 States on Wheels

The USA now has a new free accessible travel guide: “20 States On Wheels”.    It covers 15 cities and five national parks.  Assembled by four college-age friends (Brad Riew, Kunho Kim, Cynthia Cheung, and You-Myeong Kim), it is based on an epic road trip they took in 2014.   “There are a number of good accessible travel guides to the U.S., but “20 States on Wheels” is definitely a worthy addition to the canon”, says Ian Rudder in New Mobility magazine.   “Each of the 20 chapters focuses on one city or national park and details everything from tourist attractions, to weather, to accessible taxi and van rental information. The book even lists the number of accessible hotel rooms and accessible shower and parking options of a number of hotels in each city. Transit maps, contact info and well-written blurbs on many must-see items will be invaluable for anyone trying to plan a trip to one of the destinations the four friends visited.   Kunho Kim – a paraplegic – offers insights throughout on predictable and unforeseen access obstacles” continues Ruder.

The guide has a lot of great pictures and an easy to read layout.  A short essay about the group’s cross-country adventure begins each chapter.    Check out the official website to find out how to get your free copy.

Follow on Twitter: @20StatesOnWheels @New Mobility

Spanish hotel takes silver at WTM for accessible accommodation

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Photo of exterior of accommodation from the RSHA website

RuralSuite Hotel Apartamentos (RSHA) has won silver at World Travel Market (WTM) Responsible Travel’s World Responsible Tourism Awards.   They received the award at a ceremony at the WTM in London on November 4, 2015, for their work in providing accessible accommodations for travellers of all physical and mental abilities, seniors, and anyone needing better access.  RSHA – in the Navarre region of Northern Spain – fully understands and embraces the fact that people with disabilities want to travel just as much as other people, whether it is for work or play. They understand that, just like everyone, people with disabilities want an adventure, to stay in beautiful accommodations, discover new places and cultures.   RSHA realised that in order for them to be inclusive, they had to do more than the basic, legal requirements.   Being inclusive is also about being insightful. Finding out not only exactly what people’s needs might be, but also what their travel desires are. So, they have created a very informative website, giving all the details travellers with disabilities might require. They also aim to have their website fully accessible in the next year or so too. They have created stylish apartments that are in keeping with the designer feel to the hotel generally, but which also cater for various needs, with accessible kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms. The common areas, from the outdoor Jacuzzi to the restaurant are also designed with accessibility in mind. Activities at the hotel are inclusive, with adapted quad bike trips around their vast estate, horseriding and cycling being just a few of the things to do. Their attention to detail is superb, helped along by their partnership with Spanish accessibility experts Fundation ONCE, PREDIF and RedStable.

WTM, which is held in London each year on World Responsible Tourism Day, is the largest travel and tourism event in the world. The accessible tourism award is sponsored by Enable Holidays, which was established in 2004 as the first UK tour operator to be accredited for its competence in auditing the accessibility and grading the suitability of accommodation abroad for people with mobility impairments.    As with all the WTM award winners in this category, RSHA realise that people with special needs would like their needs to be catered for, but they do not want to be treated as ‘special’. They just want to be treated as guests.

Follow on Twitter: @ruralsuite @Fundacion_ONCE @Predif_Estatal @enableholidays @WTM_London @RTAwards

New Zealand Accessible Tourism website launched

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Congratulations to Richard Fanselow and team on the launch of the New Zealand-wide  accommodation and activity guide especially designed for anyone who has mild to major mobility difficulties.  Access4all (www.access4all.co.nz) uses specially positioned photos so people can check out bathrooms, entrance areas, bedrooms and living areas and find places to stay that are suitable. All accommodation listed has a combination of at least one access unit and other easily accessible standard units. It also uses photos so people can choose suitable attractions and activities at their destination.

The ACCESS4ALL Accommodation Guide has been developed by Fanselow, Websight Architects, Profitsense, and Gorilla Business Advisors, with assistance from the Ministry of Social Development.   Fanselow has been in a wheelchair for 14 years and travelled extensively during this time in New Zealand and overseas. His personal travel experiences are the inspiration behind this guide.

The guide is a major advance in its use of photographs as well as reviews of places visited.  The website encourages any kind of feedback on the guide itself and their approach to providing information.  It is fully functional, meaning people can book directly from it in the same way as other guides like the AA, Booking.com and Expedia.  Using the website will help it to increase listings and further expand throughout New Zealand next year.   More northern destinations will be added in the coming weeks before Christmas. For news and updates check out https://www.facebook.com/Access4allnz-449611348520112/

Follow on Twitter: @access4allNZ @websitearch @SenseProfit @msdgovtnz

Website Accessibility: A New Frontier Of Inclusion

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Chris Lona of CL Design is making the web/digital a better, accessible experience for disabled and ageing people. He hopes to help organizations generate more revenue by being more inclusive of this group pf customers online. In addition, he hopes to help organizations improve compliance with accessibility initiatives and mandates.  In this guest blog, he writes about web access.

Website front page with audio

Turn on your sound and visit http://www.sitellites.com/new_Zealand/

Keep your hand down if you’ve ever had a problem accessing a website. After all why make you go through extra effort if you don’t have to… Imagine that the challenges you’ve had accessing websites were compounded by being visually, auditory, physically or cognitively challenged? You would be even more frustrated than you were when you had the original challenges.   If you are a business owner in tourism, travel or hospitality and have gone to great lengths to ensure your destination is accessible, how accessible is your website which is the first impression and gateway to your offerings? If a disabled or older person wants to visit your destination and they cannot access your website, do you think they will book the trip through your company? Does it make sense – since your destination is about a superior, accessible experience – that your site should be as well? Canada, Europe the US and other countries all have legislation, mandates, or initiatives that address the issue of web accessibility.     In 2008 retailer Target had to pay $6 million because their websitewas not accessible. The consensus around a standard for web access generates from the W3C’s WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) which has a goal of providing a single shared standard for web content accessibility. A nice goal to be sure but the realities and “best practices” involved leave a lot to be desired. What has come out of this as “best practices” is a web where it is completely acceptable to build a website and then find ways to make it accessible with assistive technology mostly for the visually challenged. This main assistive technology for the visually impaired is called a screen reader. It is software that reads the information on a web page aloud in a synthetic computer voice. But this assistive technology presents several access barriers of its own—cost, computer requirements, learning curve, lack of accessible websites and a robotic, synthetic voice. There is a new mandate in the U.S. called the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act: It contains (in short) “ground-breaking protections to enable people with disabilities to access broadband, digital and mobile innovations — a study conducted by the FCC revealed that people with disabilities are less likely to use Internet-based communications technologies”.   For the web this will mean that certain videos will be required to be closed captioned for the auditory challenged.   In terms of any mandates for inclusion of the physically and cognitively challenged when they use the internet, there are vague references to inclusion of a variety of people with differing disabilities. What all of this means for businesses and their commitment to (and compliance with) web accessibility initiatives is a lack of access for them. Where will they turn to make their site be able to be read by a screen reader? How will they find the right resource to make sure their online videos are closed captioned? What resources exist to ensure that the physically and cognitively challenged will also be able to access their online and physical world experience? The fact that they will be forced into providing web access as a piecemeal approach will mean that fewer companies will bother due to the difficulties and expense.   The crux of the issue lies with the fact that “best practices” treat web accessibility as an afterthought rather than as an integrated design. A building is built with accessibility as an integral part of the design. What do you think? Should accessibility for websites be integrated from the ground up to create better online experiences for everyone? Contact: cld@cldesign.co. (Contains audio); www.cldesign.co Visit demo at http://www.sitellites.com/new_Zealand/

Shame on New Zealand

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Wellington War memorial

Shame on New Zealand.  Plans to refurbish our Parliament’s war memorial area don’t have provision for the disabled (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10086613/Upgrade-will-declutter-Cenotaph). A NZ$ 2.5 million revamp includes a staggered staircase, but Parliamentary Services have told the NZ Disabled Persons Assembly (http://www.dpa.org.nz/) that a wheelchair ramp would be “too long”, and a lift “too expensive” (3news).  People with disabilities must go around the back as is typical in many cases.  According to Rachel Noble, DPA chief executive, this is dangerous and very steep route.   

As Noble has pointed out, there are many veterans who will not be able to walk up the steps (of the memorial) with their comrades.  We at Access Tourism NZ believe that this is an insult to the men and women who gave service in many theatres of war to protect our freedoms.  Many of these men and women are now elderly and it is well known that with increasing age comes increasing disability.  In addition, many veterans suffered injury during service to their country that prevents their full mobility.  Why are we treating them as second-class citizens?  In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of younger people attending Anzac Day services to remember the sacrifices of our serving men and women.  Having no direct access for those that are now less mobile is a terrible message to send to our young.  

Follow DPA on Twitter: @DPANAT 

Scandic first to offer free web training for best serving guests with disabilities

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Inside a Scandic Hotel from the Scandic website

Scandic Hotels has launched wide-ranging interactive training on disabilities that is free and open to everyone. In doing so, Scandic provides the answers to difficult and sometimes sensitive questions about the most important issues for people who have some form of disability (one billion worldwide; over 65 million in Europe alone). Since 2003 Scandic has been working to increase accessibility.  This is yet another example of the leadership role Scandic is playing in catering for guests with disabilities – many more examples can be found on this website.

The new web-based training programme uses advice, tips, tests and instruction videos to show how to provide optimum service to guests with disabilities. The training is one of the many courses and training programmes that Scandic has produced on accessibility for its own staff but because the market is developing quickly and these issues are extremely relevant, Scandic has chosen to make the training available to everyone on its website. The hope is that this unique training programme, which sheds light on some of the many disabilities there are, will also benefit people outside Scandic too, particularly those working in the travel and tourism industry.   “The great thing about the new training programme is that everyone can learn something from it, whether they work in the hotel industry or in any other service sector,” says Magnus Berglund, Scandic’s Accessibility Director.  “By following the route of a guest through the hotel, stopping at reception, in the hotel room and in the restaurant, we are able to highlight tricky and sometimes maybe sensitive issues in these different settings. The way guests are treated is vital – it’s about treating everyone equally but at the same time knowing and understanding how together we can meet the special needs and resolve the issues that arise with different disabilities.”  Berglund gave a presentation about Scandic as a good example in the hotel industry at the European Commission International Day of People with Disabilities in Brussels on the 2nd of this month.

Frank Fiskers, Scandic’s CEO says that “the need to learn more about disabilities and to share this information is huge, and it’s growing fast, just like the number of travelling guests with disabilities.” says Frank Fiskers, Scandic’s CEO.  Scandic believes that everyone should be offered the same high Scandic standard, whether or not the guest has a disability. In consultation with organisations for people with special needs, hotel guests and team members, Scandic has therefore drawn up a checklist of 110 points that goes by the name of Scandic’s Accessibility Standard. The standard covers everything offered by Scandic and is an integral element of all products and services at its hotels. Scandic has also implemented smart design features in the rooms to make them accessible for people with disabilities. Scandic is the first hotel chain in the world to post full accessibility information for all 160 of its hotels online. Each Scandic hotel has its own page carrying unique information about the hotel and its facilities.

At the moment the training is in English but Scandic will also be launching it in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish and German in the future.   For further information, please contact: Anna-Klara Lindholm, PR Manager Scandic, tel: +46 70-973 52 31 Magnus Berglund, Accessibility Director Scandic, tel: +46 70-973 50 77

Reward your favourite disabilities charity next time you book a room

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Lake on West Coast South Island New Zealand

New Zealanders love to travel and they love to give to charity. Kiwi Karma is an accommodation website that donates 3% of the total room cost to a charity of the guest’s choice. The site has been operating for over a year now and is about to expand on their proven model.  Kiwi Karma features more than 3,100 listings covering a full range of accommodation from backpackers to lodges in New Zealand. As part of the booking process users nominate their preferred charity from a drop-box when they complete their reservation. Kiwi Karma is tapping into the world-wide trend of consumers actively seeking to deal with businesses that allow them to purchase in a socially responsible way.

“Kiwis were ranked fourth in global generosity in the 2011 World Giving Index and increasingly embracing products and services in a way that enables them to give back to their communities,” says Craig Crestani, who with his wife marketer Shelley (with clients in the charity sector) developed the concept.   “Through Shelley I know how hard fundraising can be for charities,” Craig says. “The website was one of those three o’clock in the morning ideas. I realised I could marry my experience in accommodation with Shelley’s expertise in marketing to develop a business that would also give back to the community”.  There are 20 charities involved with the site, but Kiwi Karma is working closely with the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand to extend this new fundraising initiative to others.

One of Kiwi Karma’s early adopters was Forest & Bird. Development Manager Dave Bellamy who loves the concept, “Kiwi Karma is a New Zealand company with an innovative cause related marketing model. It provides both real value for its customers with competitive accommodation rates, but importantly also provides an income stream for Forest & Bird. Their model works so well because it is frictionless. Customers don’t need to do anything additional to their normal buying practice. Simply by booking their accommodation through Kiwi Karma they are directly supporting our work to protect endangered native species.”

For more information, please contact: Craig Crestani, 021 639 035, craig@kiwikarma.co

Source: Press relaese

Enable Holidays to talk at World Travel Market London

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Picture of three Egyptian pyramids from the Enable Holidays website

Lynne Kirby from Enable Holidays will join high-profile speakers Evan Davies, BBC Radio 4 presenter, and Colin Matthews, CEO of Heathrow Airport, at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London on 6th November.  The WTM has 49,000 visitors from every sector of the travel industry, who attend for exhibits, seminars and discussions.  Enable Holidays was established by Kirby in 2004 and specialises in accessible holidays for people with disabilities and mobility impairments.  She will speak at a session sponsored by Amadeus exploring whether the global travel industry is keeping pace with changing traveller expectations.  The session chaired by Steve Endacott, Chief Executive of On Holiday Group, will focus on how travel companies can provide a superior service to match travellers with the experiences they desire – including the integration of smarter technology and examples of best practice.  Kirby sees this as “an excellent opportunity to highlight the needs and desires of disabled travellers to a global audience”.   The UK’s estimated 10.6 million disabled people have a combined annual spend on goods and services of up to £80 billion.  Disabled travellers are a sizeable yet poorly addressed segment of the market and the industry needs to do more to meet their requirements, said Kirby.  The session, entitled Amadeus Travel Insights: Connecting with the 21st-century traveller  also includes panellists Simone Buckley, CEO of the Institute of Travel & Meetings, Carol Hay, Director of Marketing UK and Europe at the Caribbean Tourism Organization, and the Leisure Director at Advantage Travel Centres, Julia Lo-Bue Said.

Enable Holidays was the first UK tour operator to be accredited for its competence in auditing the accessibility and grading the suitability of accommodation abroad for people with impaired mobility. All of the 250 accessible properties available to book via Enable Holidays have been personally visited by a qualified auditor.  Enable also caters for the elderly market, slow walkers and people looking for an easier way to get around and enjoy their holiday.

Follow on Twitter: @enableholidays @WTM_London @EvanHD @AmadeusITGroup @heathrowAirport @OnHolidayGroup  @ITMtweets @ctotourism @AdvantageHQ

Why Baby Boomers are being sold short: NZ Listener article

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Front cover of the Listener magazine for August 31 to September 6 2013 showing faceless Baby Boomers

This week’s New Zealand Listener magazine cover story is about how business in this country neglects Baby Boomers to their peril.  Karl du Fresne writes that Boomers are a huge demographic controlling most of the disposable income who are largely ignored.  Older consumers are 32% of our population but control an estimated 65% of disposable income but attract only 10% of of advertising spending.  Doug Lloyd at AUT University’s communications school says that this is because agencies and marketers are dominated by people under 40.  “While the baby-boomer generation spends up large on new cars, travel, technology, financial services, healthcare, and dining out, advertising agencies and marketing managers still seem to equate age with Viagara and Zimmer frames” writes du Fresne.  The phenomenon was noted in “The business of Ageing”, a 2011 Ministry of Social Development report which warned that businesses who ignore Boomers will find their markets shrinking.  Other reports – such as that by Neilsen for the Hope Foundation for Research on Ageing –  have warned of the consequences of ignoring the Boomer market.  Many a blog on this website (Access Tourism NZ) has over the years tried to bring the attention of the NZ tourism, travel, and hospitality industry to the fact that by ignoring Boomers, seniors (and people with disabilities), the industry is ignoring a lucrative market (the latest such article, 12 days ago). An indication of this lack of interest in older visitors to NZ can be seen, for example, in the promotional photographs in the image library used by the 100% Pure NZ website (the official Tourism NZ website).  A quick survey of these photographs shows that fewer than 5% include models who appear to be over 45 years of age acting as visitors.  This is in spite of the fact that the number of older visitors to New Zealand is on the rise, and that currently 43% are 45 or older.

Former NZ Herald editor-in-chief Gavin Ellis (now a media researcher) pointed out to du Fresne that ignoring Boomers is counter-intuitive, and that “younger people now, particularly the under-25s, are finding it very hard to get high-paying jobs…..their disposable income is probably less that it has been in the past”.  Richard Poole, co-founder of GrownUps, an ezine aimed at the mature, internet-savvy demographic says this group should be even more attractive to advertisers because people aged 46-65 are often influential across four generations. “As well as making their own spending decisions, they might be choosing a retirement home for their octogenarian parents, advising their adult children on their first home purchase, and opening KiwiSaver accounts for their grandchildren”

The Listener article also presented the following facts about New Zealanders 50 years old or older:

  • More than 100 New Zealanders a day turn 50
  • They spend 16% per person more than younger New Zealanders
  • They buy 80% of new premium car purchases
  • 30% are internet users (more than in the 4049 age group)
  • By 2031 there will be over 1 million aged 65 or older
  • By 2051 consumer spending by older people could increase from $11 billion currently to $45 billion
  • Their spending on food and entertainment is expected to increase fourfold

Keroul Quebec to participate in the 6th UNenable conference of States Parties on CRPD

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Keroul Quebec logo

Kéroul Quebec will participate in the Sixth session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), in New York July 16-19 (UN Enable).  Kéroul will host a Side-event regarding the World Summit Destinations for All (Twitter #D4All2014), July 17, from 3.00 to 4.30, Room Conference E.  The World summit “Destinations for All” will be held in Montreal in October, 2014.  Keroul is a non-profit organization that provides information about accessible travel in Quebec, develops, promotes, and lobbies about accessible tourism, and is the key consultant for Tourisme Quebec regarding accessibility.  Co-sponsors of the Keroul side-event include the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), and the International Organization of Social Tourism (OITS-ISTO).

The theme of the sixth UN Enable session is “Ensuring adequate standard of living: empowerment and participation of persons with disabilities within the framework of the CRPD”.   Sub-themes  include 1., Economic empowerment through inclusive social protection and poverty reduction strategies; 2., Disability-inclusive development in national, regional and international processes, and 3., Community-based rehabilitation and habilitation for inclusive society.