Accessible Holiday Guide from Responsible Travel

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Responsible Travel in the UK connects the world’s best small holiday companies with travellers looking for more from their holiday than just a brief stay.  They offer personal holidays or holidays in a small group from over 375 small and specialist tour companies in 190+ countries.   Convinced that small holiday companies are run by interesting people who founded them out of a deep love for destinations, cultures, landscapes and wildlife, their aim is treat local people and places well.   Responsible Travel now has an Accessible Holiday Guide about accessible travel for people with disabilities.   It covers places to stay and things to do, and has advice on travelling with a disability.

As the website points out, the world’s travelling population is getting older, with varying access needs. Many businesses are starting to hear the message that tourists who travel with special needs are increasing in number. The term ‘purple pound’ or ‘dollar’ has even been coined to describe this rapidly growing worldwide market.   Martin Heng, Accessible Travel Manager & Editorial Adviser, Lonely Planet (Australia) is a world-travelled wheelchair user.  He writes on the website that “Baby boomers are now retiring with access issues, whether they identify as disabled or not, they are increasingly subject to varying degrees of disability, whether it is hearing, sight or mobility. And this is a market that I think the smart national tourism bodies are actually thinking about. Examples of these are England, Scotland and Wales, on the back of the last Olympics and Paralympics in London – but also Catalonia and Germany”.

Follow on Twitter: @r_travel @Martin_Heng @lonelyplanet

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Derbyshire Peak District tourism businesses improve access with EC grant

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Eight businesses in the Derbyshire Peak District have become part of a project to improve tourism access for disabled people.  Using money from a £93,000 European Commission grant, the businesses have been picked out as leaders in the Visit Peak District and Derbyshire-backed campaign to make it easier for disabled tourists to visit the region.  The businesses are: Hoe Grange Holidays in Brassington, Rivendale Caravan and Leisure Park in Alsop en-le Dale, Chatsworth, Crich Tramway Village, East Lodge Hotel and Restaurant in Rowsley, High Peak Borough Council’s Pavilion Gardens in Buxton, and the Peak District National Park Authority’s Parsley Hay Cycle Hire.  They were subjected to a site audit to review their facilities and pinpoint areas that could be improved while staff were given classroom-based and on-line training to boost customer service.  A mystery shop was also carried out by people with a range of disabilities and tips were then given to improve their accessibility and websites.

The firms taking part also shared a £100,000 print and on-line media and marketing campaign by VisitEngland, which aimed to raise awareness of accessible destinations and businesses across England.   Greg Potter, manager of Rivendale Caravan and Leisure Park, said: “Our involvement has enabled us to work with some wonderful people with a down-to-earth but inspirational approach to helping guests with mobility issues and also to provide the information guests need to assess if our accommodation is suitable for them.  The marketing boost we have received is also helping to ensure we make a return on our investment and that continuing improvements are sustainable in the long run.”

Research by Visit England suggests the accessible tourism market is now worth £3 billion per annum to the English economy, with day visits boosting the figure to £12.1 billion.  Over the past few years, overnight trips by disabled tourists and their companions have increased by 19% and their spending is up by a third.  Lindsay Rae, deputy director and head of industry engagement at Visit Peak District and Derbyshire, said: “Visit England estimates that the overall annual value of overnight accessible tourism to Derbyshire is £45 million, so it makes sense for local businesses to invest in improving their facilities and services for this key sector of the market.

Source:  http://www.ashbournenewstelegraph.co.uk/Project-boosts-disabled-access-Peak-District/story-28105379-detail/story.html#ixzz3qylXFIfB Follow on Twitter: @vpdd @HoeGrange @Rivendale_hol @ChatsworthHouse @CrichTramway @eastlodgehotel  @GardensBuxton @peakdistrict  @AshbourneNews on Twitter

Tourism and Disabled Access Day in Scotland, 2016

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The UK has a Disabled Access Day, an annual national initiative created to raise awareness of the importance of disabled access and started in 2015.  In 2016, it will be held on 12 March.  The day aims to encourage disabled people, their friends and families to visit somewhere new and over 50 venues across the UK, including Westminster Abbey, Tate Modern and The Scottish Parliament, have already signed up to be involved.  In Scotland, a launch event was held in October 2015 at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh with Maureen Watt MSP, Minister for Public Health, in attendance.  This marked the beginning of the lead up to the second annual event, building on the 2015 result when over 200 companies and venues took part, including VisitScotland, BT, Caffè Nero, Caffé Concerto and Barclays. The events attracted over 1,000 disabled people and their families, friends and carers.

Venues can take part in the 2016 event by hosting an event or simply opening their doors to show that they welcome disabled visitors and their friends and families. Whether it is a cinema, hotel or visitor attraction, there are plenty of ways for businesses to get involved. For further information on how to get involved, please visit: http://www.disabledaccessday.com/get-involved/

The Scottish Government is providing VisitScotland with £38,000 (this on top of other funding; this for example) to boost the engagement of disabled and older people in the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design.  Scotland’s Minister for Business Energy and Tourism Fergus Ewing MSP said that these funds will support a series of new and enhanced partner projects, each of which will contribute to the wider Accessible Tourism Drive, contributing to the Innovation and Architecture themes of the 2016 year and creating a legacy whose benefits will be felt well into the future as the accessible tourism project rolls-out.

Chris McCoy, Head of VisitScotland’s Accessible Tourism Programme, said: “We are delighted to lend our support to next year’s Disabled Access Day as part of our ongoing Accessible Tourism Programme. I would encourage businesses to sign up to take part as we look to make this country a fully accessible destination.”  An overwhelming 94% of disabled people would revisit a venue that has good accessibility, according to a survey carried out by Euan’s Guide, the main sponsors of Disabled Access Day. With the UK’s 12 million disabled people estimated to have a combined spending power of over £200 billion, venues with poor disabled access or information are potentially missing out on gaining a significant amount of revenue.

Euan MacDonald, co-founder of the disabled access reviews website, EuansGuide.com said, “The success of last year’s event has given us a firm foundation to build on. Not only are we raising awareness of disabled access, but also showcasing the venues with good accessibility and highlighting the commercial value held by the UK’s 12 million disabled people and their family, friends and carers.”

Source: Edinburgh Reporter.  Follow on Twitter:  @Access_Day @VisitScotland @EuansGuide   For more information on Disabled Action Day, please visit: www.disabledaccessday.com

Cyprus action plan on accessible tourism

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The Republic of Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) is preparing an action plan to provide people with disabilities accessible holidays in the country.  CTO recognizes this as a big market.  During a conference held last week, CTO Deputy Director Annita Demetriades said that accessible tourism is not for a small group of people.  “In the EU, there are about 138 million people with increased accessibility needs, usually traveling for holidays during the low seasons. Disabled-friendly infrastructure and services give our island a positive image, enhance the quality of our tourist product and show our tangible respect for our fellow people,” she added.  Demetriades noted that accessible tourism ensures more people get the opportunity to travel. “Undoubtedly Cyprus is an attractive tourist destination, so the tourist industry stands to get more visitors, who prefer to travel off-peak periods,” she said.

According to data, in 2012 direct revenue from accessible tourism in the EU amounted to €352 billion, giving employment to 4.2 million people. Taking into account the multiplier effect, total turnover increases to €786 billion. Studies indicate that improving accessibility could lead to a 24.2% increase in demand and 18% increase in the spending of European tourists by 2020.

The CTO is creating the infrastructure on 37 beaches making swimming experience for the disabled more comfortable. Specifically, 11 of the 37 beaches are fully equipped for this purpose. In addition, the CTO now has a grant scheme for hotel units which upgrade their infrastructure to accommodate guests with disabilities.

Source: In-Cyprus.  Follow on Twitter: @visitcyprus

Be Able Travel: businesses miss customer revenue if inaccessible

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Be Able Travel (UK) was created in 2015 by a wheelchair user with FSH Muscular Dystrophy and a vision impaired person who has been blind since shortly after birth.   In this guest post, Mandy Altoff of BAT describes why reliable information about access is important to people with disabilities.

Be Able Travel logo

At Be Able Travel, we found that despite our best research, what was classed as accessible by websites/other people’s reviews, in reality wasn’t always the case.  There are over 1 billion people worldwide (11 million of those here in the UK) living with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability.  Much more needs to be done to improve accessibility in the UK and the rest of the world. How many business are missing out on customer revenue because their establishment is simply not accessible!
I recently wanted to meet up with friends for a drink at a local pub (bar) so called ahead to check it was accessible.  A member of staff assured me I would be fine in my wheelchair so off I went. Upon arrival the pub did indeed have a ramped entrance.  Great start! Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to the bar to order as it had 5 stairs up to it, and sadly, the toilets were the same! Something as simple as meeting friends for a drink had suddenly become impossible without having to rely on others for assistance.

Thankfully, not everywhere is like this! Brighton Marina, UK http://www.brightonmarina.co.uk/ is a very accessible place with numerous restaurants along the waterfront, a particular favourite of ours is Zizzi, which has wheelchair access, plenty of space between tables & a Braille menu to hand.
With Be Able Travel we hope to achieve a comprehensive database of reviews from all over the world to enable disabled people to be informed without having to rely on the venues for the information. Who knows, maybe together we can change accessibility for the better, one review at a time!
Please show your support and like our Facebook Page www.facebook.com/beabletraveluk or follow us on Twitter @beabletravel or leave a review at www.beabletravel.co.uk Zizzi on Twitter: @WeAreZizzi

EC grant helps VisitEngland to expand its Access For All initiative

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VisitEngland has a grant of €125,000 from the European Commission to expand its “Access for All” initiative.   This follows a successful pilot project in 2013-14 with four destinations: VisitBath, goLeicestershire, NewcastleGateshead, and VisitBrighton.   The current project is partnering with Visit Kent, Marketing Birmingham, Visit Lincoln, Visit Northumberland, Visit Peak District and Derbyshire, Experience Nottinghamshire and VisitBrighton to develop and promote their destination for visitors with access needs.  The project has been running for almost a year now.  It comprises two phases: product development, where businesses are supported in improving their accessibility with the help of access advisors Access New Business , and a national consumer marketing campaign.

Over 50 tourism businesses are being directly supported as part of the project to improve their accessibility. Each business has received:

A second national marketing campaign will be launched in this month (September 2015).   The campaign aims to raise awareness of accessible destinations and businesses in England, improving perceptions of Accessible England.

Source: press release.  Follow on Twitter:  @VisitEnglandBiz @VisitEngland @BrianMSeaman

EU Parliament-financed study: Catering for Accessible Tourism demand in Europe

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Map of Europe

A new study on the supply of accessible tourism services in the EU Member States, financed by the European Parliament, shows that there is a general lack of provisions for visitors with access needs.  Greater commitment and cooperation is needed between tourism authorities, destinations and enterprises, if supply is to meet the growing demand for accessibility, especially from increasing numbers of senior travellers, many of whom face access difficulties.  The study found that by 2020, over 4 million tourism businesses need to provide accessible services in order to accommodate the lowest forecasted demand from those already with disabilities, and the predicted increase in this number. Thus, there is a strong rationale for targeted actions by policymakers to improve support structures and incentives that will foster the growth of accessible services and to market these services to travellers within Europe and those from other source markets.

The study gathered data from a wide range of sources, showing that an estimated 9% of Europe’s tourism services already have some level of provision for travellers with specific access needs.   A number of leading destinations and “mainstream” suppliers are integrating accessibility measures into their products and services, enabling them to serve a wider market, thus making their business more sustainable over the long term.

However, the distribution of accessible services is highly uneven across Europe.   The “front-runner” countries, with the greatest numbers of accessible services, are France, Italy, Spain and the UK. These and other countries have invested not only in adapting and building accessible infrastructure but also in developing staff training schemes focusing on disability awareness and accessibility as part of customer service training. This, in turn, helps to give customers the confidence to travel with greater security, knowing that their needs will be met.  However, where accessible services are offered, the vast majority of these address the needs of people with reduced mobility due to motor difficulties or impairments.  Visitors who have other access requirements, such as those who need services for people with low vision or reduced hearing or special diets, are under-served in the market.  Visitors with intellectual disabilities or learning difficulties are the least served of all customer groups.

Lack of services for these groups means that their travel choices are limited – but it also implies “lost” income to tourism providers.

The study has identified important gaps in awareness and knowledge about accessible tourism among suppliers.  The European Commission’s tourism policy officer, Antonella Correra, states: “One important result of this study is that the first barrier is not the lack of financing. There is a perception that accessibility is expensive but when businesses were asked, it was mainly the lack of available guidance that holds them back. Knowing what needs to be done to make their services more accessible is the primary issue.”

Ivor Ambrose, Managing Director of the European Network for Accessible Tourism, which carried out the study together with VVA European consultants and EWORX S.A., adds: ”The study shows that businesses are largely unaware or cautious of the market potential and the business case for investing in the accessible tourism market.”

Referring to some of the good practices that the study has identified, Ambrose continues: “We have developed fifteen Case Studies, from Rovaniemi, the home of Santa Claus in Finland, to Paris Région – the world’s number one city for tourism. The studies highlight destinations that are working to create accessible itineraries and experiences for seniors, people with disabilities and families with small children, enabling these customers to enjoy a visit on equal terms with everyone else. Experiences from these destinations have been used to draw up recommendations and explain the tools and methods that other aspiring accessible tourism destinations and suppliers can adopt. We hope these will be a source of ideas and inspiration to many destinations and businesses”.

The study points to evidence that improvements to accessibility, whether they are in infrastructure or in many kinds of service, can increase sales, encourage repeat visits and bring higher average spend. However, proving the business case for accessible tourism is still a challenge in many areas. More regular and systematic market data is required in EU countries to guide business investors and public sector actors.  Another recent EU study of tourism demand has estimated that the accessible tourism market in Europe is made up of over 138 million people, of which only about half are regular travellers. The gross value added contribution of those who did travel in 2012 was estimated at 150 Billion Euro and the direct contribution to employment was about 4.2 million persons.

The Supply Study concludes that ‘mainstreaming’ accessible tourism policies in destinations can enhance the quality of tourism products for all visitors, as well as providing a pathway to local development. “It has been shown that, with stronger cooperation between decision-makers, destination managers, suppliers and the third sector, the focus on accessibility can lead to new jobs and business opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors” says Ambrose, concluding: “This recipe can give a boost to the tourism industry and also improve conditions generally for local communities”

Recommendations from the study are being adopted in the current EU tourism development programmes, in particular through support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises to improve their staff skills for serving customers with various access needs and to develop accessible itineraries and supply networks.

Source: Adapted from press release.  Follow on Twitter: @EU_Commission @visiteurope @EUaccesstourism @VVA-Europe @eworx

Ageing Boomers a factor in increasingly important Family Tourism

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Seniors and grandchildren

AUT University academics Heike A. Schanzel and Ian Yeoman have just had a paper published discussing “Trends in Family Tourism” (Journal of Tourism Futures, 2015: Vol. 1 Iss 2 pp. 141 – 147).  In it, the authors discuss how family travel is predicted to grow at a faster rate than all other forms of leisure travel.  It is a phenomena shaped by changes in demography and social structures, including a growing number of older people.   Longevity and smaller core families have led to the family becoming more vertical rather than statically horizontal in form. Grandparents are enjoying more time with their grandchildren as they live longer.  “In 1960”, write the authors, “the life expectancy of a UK woman was 73 and the mean age for giving birth was 27. Presently, the life expectancy for a woman is 81.9 and the age for giving birth is increasingly in their 30s. Present day grandparents can expect to enjoy several more years with their grandchildren than those of the 1960s”.  People expect grandparents to continue to play an active role in their grandchildren’s life.

Increasingly re-connection holidays across generations become a way for extended families to spend valuable time together, and 75% of travellers plan their holiday around a milestone event such as a birthday, reunion, wedding or anniversary – and even a holiday, to bring family members together. More baby boomers are becoming grandparents who are typically healthier, mobile and want to spend quality, fun time with their grandchildren.

Follow on Twitter: @tomorrowstouris

Permanent link to paper: Heike A. Schänzel Ian Yeoman , (2015),”Trends in family tourism”, Journal of Tourism Futures, Vol. 1 Iss 2 pp. 141 – 147 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/JTF-12-2014-0006

Travel businesses missing out on huge market: WTM

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 Travel businesses failing to take into account the disabled market are missing out on up to £80 billion of potential spend in the UK alone. The headline figure was discussed a round table conversation organized by The Travel Tech Show at the World Travel Market (WTM) and Amadeus, which focused on disabled and responsible travel.  The event featured an in-depth and informed discussion as eight experts from both business arenas gathered to discuss the markets. But it was the figure from the UK Government’s 2012 Legacy for Disabled People, Inclusive and Accessible Business which provoked much discussion.  Ataxia South Wales Chairman Alan Jones said the report showed the UK’s estimated 10.6 million disabled people have a combined annual spend on goods and services of up to £80 billion, adding: “It is a big market out there. What’s the travel industry doing about it? In a word, nothing.”  Jones said the problems start as soon as he tries to book a holiday as many people in the industry see his wheelchair rather than the human being using it, leaving agents too embarrassed to deal with.

Enable Holidays Managing Director Lynne Kirby said such problems are endemic in a trade which has failed to educate staff how best to handle disabled people. Amadeus Director of Marketing Rob Sinclair-Barnes added if the market is to be adequately served, it must be all encompassing: “Accessible travel is the only type of travel that has implications from the moment of departure from home to the moment of return.”  However, Virgin Atlantic Passenger Disability Adviser Geraldine Lundy said the trade would need to go even further to meet the market’s needs, adding: “It is even before they (disabled travelers) leave home. It is when they’re thinking about the holiday and booking it. It is about getting the information about where they want to go.”  Lundy said the information needs to be accurate to allow disabled people to make informed decisions. She added it must also take in to account that some disabled people are blind or have learning difficulties and will need the information presented in a different way.  Sinclair-Barnes pointed out that as Baby Boomers enter old age and face increasing health problems, the industry must take action. “It (accessible travel) is a growing market. I’ve found it quite astonishing how little (product) there is.”

Source: World Travel Market.  WTM is the leading global event for the travel industry, and holds a four-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Almost 48,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM.

New app: Accessible NYC subway and places

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Wheelie map of NYC

Wheely is an application designed to help wheelchair and stroller users better navigate the New York City Subway system as well as provide a useful guide to accessible places in specific neighbourhoods. Wheely features accessible subway maps licensed by the MTA®, specific directions and maps to subway elevators and reviews based on local accessible places. Wheely is founded by Anthony Driscoll, a Parsons New School MFA Design and Technology candidate, who was inspired to create this app through his travels with his father who was diagnosed with MS in 2001.  Over the past couple years Driscoll senior has been dependent on a power chair to get around.  He and Anthony have travelled all over the country together and have experienced all levels of accessibility.   When Anthony moved to NYC to attend grad school at Parsons School of Design, his family would visit frequently.  It took a lot of preparation and research to accommodate his father’s needs. They  would have to call ahead to restaurants and figure out the best way for him to get from place to place.  Though all of NYC’s buses are accessible, they are slow and can be a hassle to board and exit the bus.  They decided to use the subway system since that is what Anthony was most familiar with.  It took a few times traveling the subway to realize the right way to board the train and which lines were accessible.  The MTA subway is hard to decifer when looking for accessible stations and sometimes the elevators are out of service which left people stranded. Anthony saw a gap in the market for a visualized accessible subway map and elevator statuses and decided to create Wheely.

Whether you’re in a wheelchair, using a stroller or your boss made you move a million boxes from one office to the next, Wheely gives your a map of accessible stations and helps you find subway elevators.

Wheely will not only be an accessible subway map with elevator directions but a fully accessible guide for New York City.  Wheely plans to create an open source interactive map with reviews and ratings of various accessible places. To do this they need user input.   People can help by telling Wheelie what their favourite accessible places are.  They do not have to be in New York City but NYC places are preferred.  By providing them with this information they will be able to start building a database to later add to Wheely as a fully functional navigational guide with ratings and reviews.

Sources: http://www.wheelyapp.com/  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1935800597/wheely-a-wheelchair-accessible-guide Follow on Twitter: @wheelynyc

VisitEngland conference on accessible tourism

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VisitEngland photo of a wheelie and a pushchair user in a souvenir shop

VisitEngland is that country’s national tourist board. Its role is to grow the value of tourism by working in partnership with the industry to deliver inspirational marketing campaigns and to provide advocacy for the industry and visitors. The organisation’s work is underpinned by robust research and customer insights.  VisitEngland has for a number of years been at the forefront of developing accessible tourism for people with disabilities and others who need better access to tourism, travel, and hospitality.  It has carried out a number of initiatives in this area (search here), and annually gives an “Access For All” award at its Visit England Awards for Excellence” celebrations.   Recently, VisitEngland received funding from the European Commission to develop accessible tourism, and is currently part way through an “Access for All” project, developing and promoting 7 high quality accessible tourism itineraries.

This year – as part of English Tourism Week 2015 (14-22 March), VisitEngland will be holding a conference on achieving access for all in tourism venues.   Unlocking the Purple Pound will be held in partnership with Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool on Wednesday 18th March.  Sandcastle won the 2013 Gold Award for accessible tourism.   The  free event will help business owners and managers improve their facilities and services for disabled people and those with other accessibility needs – a market now worth £12.4bn to England’s tourism industry.

With more than 1 in 6  visitors to England likely to have an impairment and a massive 31% uplift in the number of domestic holidays taken by the 55+ age group since 2006, the business case for improving accessibility has never been more compelling.

Sponsored by Aveso, the programme is packed full of practical tips and expert insights, including an Access Statement workshop, top tips for accessible marketing and tailored sessions for attraction and accommodation businesses.

Follow on Twitter: @VisitEngland @VisitEnglandBiz @AvesoCP

New UNWTO manual: Accessible Tourism for All

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UNWTO Manual on Accessible Tourism for All Front Cover

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) Manual on Accessible Tourism for All: Public-Private Alliances and Good Practices has just been published.  It is the first publication of a technical nature produced by the UNWTO in collaboration with the Spanish ACS Foundation. The Manual highlights the value of accessible heritage and cultural resources and provides the necessary technical knowledge for making built and natural tourism environments accessible within the framework of public-private alliances.

The 284-page manual covers such aspects as an overview of Tourism for All (TfA), public-private partnerships, an analysis of good practice, accessibility in architectural heritage, historic and tourist cities in Spain, access in historic European city centres, parks, and gardens, access in natural surroundings and transport, training, sports activities, and accessibility and international cooperation.   The manual has an extensive list of references and links to accessibility information.

The report points out that people with disabilities make up a significant part of the world’s population, and that their number is on the rise due to the ageing trend being observed in certain regions, because disability increases with age.  The report goes on to say that The World Health Organization estimated that in 2011, there were approximately one billion people with disabilities in the world, that is, 15% of the total population.  They also constitute an emerging segment in terms of tourism demand. There is wide consensus that this demand is growing and is multi-customer, since each person with disability tends to be accompanied.  The disabilities market is also an image-booster for a destination, could help solve issues of seasonality – especially with regard to beach tourism, and is capable of generating higher income than the average for conventional tourism.

The ACS Foundation is a private non-profit institution with a mandate to act as the channel for all social action undertaken by the business corporation Grupo ACS. It enters into agreements with Spanish and international institutions to launch and support projects and training and also research activities related to the restoration of historic heritage, environmental conservation and the removal of barriers to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities or in a situation of dependence, and tourism for all.

Source: World Tourism Organization and Fundación ACS (2015).  Manual on Accessible Tourism for All – Public-Private Partnerships and Good Practices, UNWTO, Madrid.    http://www.e-unwto.org/content/j875u2/fulltext.pdf  Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @UNWTO_pub

VisitEngland continues its “Access For All” project

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Tourist in a wheelchair, and with a suitcase, bank of the Thames, London

A VisitEngland-led “Access for All” project is part-way through developing and promoting  7 high quality accessible tourism itineraries.   It is doing this by supporting tourism businesses to improve information, customer service, and facilities for the benefit of people with access needs and by delivering a mainstream national marketing campaign to promote accessible tourism in England.  It will, therefore, increase opportunities for people with access needs to take holidays and inform them of reliably accessible tourism products and services.   Awareness of accessible destinations will be increased improving perceptions of Accessible England and Europe.   A sustainable legacy will be achieved by upskilling and empowering destination organisations  (DOs) to become local champions of long-term accessible tourism development and developing an Accessible Tourism Itinerary Toolkit for other destinations. New partnerships will be forged between key tourism stakeholders and disability stakeholders.

The ‘Access for All’ project is funded by a grant of €125,000 from the European Commission.

VisitEngland’s Destination Partners include Visit Kent and Visit Brighton (coastal), Visit Birmingham and  Visit Lincoln (city), and Visit Northumberland, Visit Peak District and Derbyshire, and Experience Nottinghamshire (countryside).

The work is organised into 4 work packages:

  • WP1 – Designing, including the appointment of Accessibility Experts, introductory workshops for destination organisation partners, and project start up meetings with business partners in each destination.
  • WP2 – Implementation (Access for All Development Process), including inspection of venues, production of improvement plans, staff training, mystery visits, and updating of access information.
  • WP3 – Dissemination, including to people with access needs via a mainstream consumer marketing campaign.  This will involve the production of itinerary guides, campaign creative, and securing advertorial and editorial space in key specialist media channels, dissemination to businesses via B2B communications plan, video case studies and production of ‘Accessible Itineraries Development Toolkit’, dissemination to other EU member states via the web, and social media coverage provided by European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT).
  • WP4 – Evaluation, including of marketing campaigns against a set of defined measurement vehicles, project monitoring and reporting, and a post-completion project evaluation.

Main Source:  European Commission http://ec.europa.eu/growth/sectors/tourism/offer/accessible/index_en.htm.   Follow on Twitter: @VisitEngland @RossCalladine @EU_growth  @EUaccesstourism #AccessForAll

Seven European countries join forces to develop accessible tourism

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S Notts 2 056Italy, Belgium, Spain, Bulgaria, Portugal, Germany, and Denmark are joining forces to develop nine fully accessible itineraries into comprehensive tourism packages. The project is one of a number in accessible tourism funded by the European Commission.   The transnational initiative – named  Project STRING – will market the packages as single or multiple customer-selected preferred combination. The packages will include choices in historic monuments, religious interest, gastronomy and wine-tasting, arts, shopping and  entertainment, and more.

The project will select existing accessible tourist sites and facilities to form a continuing, well- linked route with rich attractions and tailored services, then promote and market these.    Project STRING aims  to better exploit the experiences and itineraries realized by some of the partners in the  framework of the League of Historical and Accessible Cities (LHAC);  to provide versatile, high-quality and fully accessible tourist products to all kinds of people with access needs;  to present accessible tourist products to the customers through easily-accessible channels and in a flexible, adaptable and thus more attracting way;  to disseminate at a wider level the best practices and know-how in accessible tourism achieved by the partners as well as by other members of the LHAC; and to foster cooperation among SMEs, public administrations, foundations, associations and other stakeholders to improve accessibility and contribute to a better quality of life for all.

The lead partner is CPD – Consulta per le Persone in Difficoltà ONLUS (Italy).

Source: European Commission. Follow on Twitter: @EU_Growth  @Turismabile

Boomers “agents of change” in tourism: SMG Consulting

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Boomers and seniors at the Tower of London

SMG Consulting is a Californian company which carries out research and develops strategic plans and tourism marketing programs in tourism, recreation, and hospitality.  They have just released their eight annual SMG Tourism Outlook for 2015.  In it, they describe several agents of change in the industry, including demographics and consumer behaviour (the others are climate, and tourism funding).

The report points out that by 2029, more than 20% of the total U.S. population will be over the age of 65. Although the number of Baby Boomers will decline through mortality, this shift toward an increasingly older population is expected to endure. By 2056, the population 65 years and over is projected to become larger than the population under 18 years. While Boomers are getting older, they still represent 25% of the U.S. population with the highest disposable income, a significant share of the tourism industry bottom line.The report goes on to say that today’s Baby Boomer is quite different, however, than a decade ago, even a year ago. Following the free spirited lead of their Millennial kids and Gen Xer co-workers, Baby Boomers are mimicking their leisure patterns and pursuit of fun in their older years. The report calls this “Aging Younger”.

Because of this, some traditional pursuits of older generations are in decline.  For example, the report points out that in the USA, golf is on the downswing.   As Baby Boomers age and move on to other passions, Gen Xers and Millennials are not replacing the void. Following suit, Baby Boomers are also spending more of their precious time in a variety of activities such as food pairings and motorcycle touring making them less inclined to play the traditional 18 rounds. A similar situation exists in skiing, that is, as Baby Boomers age and turn to other passions, Generation Xers and Millennials are not replacing the volume or frequency.

Boomers are healthier and wealthier than ever, and more willing to engage in numerous activities. For example, WanderLust, a yoga music foodie festival, and the SnowGlobe music festival, attract both a younger and older audience. Priorities with health, community and ecology, Wanderlust festivals are popping up all over, extending the life of tired destinations and many of their traditional Baby Boomer visitor segments. Remember, Baby Boomers were raised on Rock ‘n’ Roll and self-expression. Baby Boomers who are the parents of Millennials want new experiences too. They like music festivals and yoga, which keep them young, and the destination even younger. Chasing youth is a great revenue generator, especially for mature destinations that desperately need repositioning.

Source: SMG Consulting (http://smgonline.net/).  Follow on Twitter: @SMGtahoe

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/

Germany continues work to broaden and promote accessible tourism

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Accessible Tourism in Germany covers of two brochures from press release (2)

Germany: The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs promotes the further expansion of accessible tourism in Germany.  Their project “Tourism for All” was awarded the German Seminar for Tourism (DSFT) Berlin e.V. in December.  With this project, the tourism industry can better adapt to the rapidly growing number of people needing better access, such as seniors, people with disabilities, or families with prams and luggage.   The main objective of the project is to introduce a nationwide uniform labelling system “Travel for All” in the next three years.   In future, all travellers, including those needing better access, can get reliable information about the tourist service provider and can use it for their travel decision.   To this end, there is a comprehensive database on the German National Tourist Board website (DZT) as well as on those of state marketing organizations.  Businesses along the entire service chain are recognized by Germany-wide criteria, rated, and certified.   In addition, providers receive access training.

The label “Tourism for All” has been developed over several years with the input and cooperation of  numerous organizations, the tourist associations state marketing organizations, and other stakeholders as part of a project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics (2011-2014). There are already 10 states, a few regions,  and a hotel corporation on the system. Nearly 400 businesses were inspected using an extensive catalogue of criteria.   Support for Project V. is the German Seminar for Tourism (DSFT) Berlin e. V. in cooperation with the Association for Tourism All Germany e. (NatKo).    For information on the project and the labelling system “Travel for All”, see www.reisen-fuer-alle.de.

Tourismus für Alle – ein Zukunftsmarkt

Das Bundeswirtschaftsministerium fördert den weiteren Ausbau des barrierefreien Tourismus in Deutschland – für das Projekt „Reisen für Alle“ erhielt das Deutsche Seminar für Tourismus (DSFT) Berlin e. V. im Dezember den Zuwendungsbescheid. Mit dem Projekt soll sich die Tourismusbranche besser auf die stark wachsende Gruppe älterer, aktivitäts- und mobilitätseingeschränkter Menschen einstellen.

Hauptziel des Projektes ist, das bundesweit einheitliche Kennzeichnungssystem „Reisen für Alle“ in den nächsten drei Jahren einzuführen. Künftig sollen alle Reisenden, darunter auch Senioren, Menschen mit einer Behinderung oder Familien mit Kinderwagen und Gepäck, verlässliche Informationen über die touristischen Anbieter erhalten und diese für ihre Reiseentscheidung nutzen können. Dafür entsteht eine umfangreiche Datenbank, die im Internet auf den Seiten der Deutschen Zentrale für Tourismus (DZT) sowie den Seiten der Landesmarketing-Organisationen abgerufen werden kann. Betriebe entlang der gesamten touristischen Servicekette werden nach deutschlandweit einheitlichen Kriterien erfasst, bewertet und zertifiziert. Außerdem erhalten die Anbieter Schulungen.

Die Kennzeichnung „Reisen für Alle“ wurde in mehrjähriger Zusammenarbeit und Abstimmung mit zahlreichen Betroffenenverbänden sowie allen touristischen Verbänden, Landesmarketing-Organisationen und weiteren Akteuren im Rahmen eines vom Bundeswirtschaftsministerium geförderten Vorgängerprojektes von 2011 bis 2014 entwickelt. Inzwischen setzen bereits 10 Bundesländer, einige Regionen und auch eine Hotelkooperation das System ein. Knapp 400 Betriebe wurden mit dem umfangreichen Kriterienkatalog geprüft. Es gibt bereits eine Reihe guter Beispiele und Initiativen in verschiedenen Regionen, doch barrierefreie Tourismusangebote sind in Deutschland noch lange nicht flächendeckend zu finden.   Träger des Projekts ist das Deutsche Seminar für Tourismus (DSFT) Berlin e. V. in Kooperation mit dem Verein Tourismus für Alle Deutschland e. V. (NatKo).

Aktuelle Informationen zu dem Projekt und Kennzeichnungssystem “Reisen für Alle” finden Sie unter www.reisen-fuer-alle.de

Source: Press release.  Please forgive translation mistakes. Follow on Twitter: @BMWi_Bund

Asia Pacific Network on Accessible Tourism to get country chapters

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Hotel Hallway

The Asia Pacific Network on Accessible Tourism (APNAT) will soon see the establishment of country chapters, which would help champion barrier-free travel for all people with disabilities in the region.  This move was agreed upon at the recently concluded 5th International Conference on Accessible Tourism.  APNAT itself was formed after recommendations from participants who attended the first South-east Asia Conference on Accessible Tourism in 2012 (SEACAT).   Sia Siew Chin, protem committee chairman of APNAT, said: “Through APNAT, we would like to be able to reach out to governments, people in the tourism industry and service providers to provide for the access needs of everyone in society, in particular people with disabilities.”   Saowalak Thongkuay, regional coordinator for Abilis Foundation Mekong, said: “APNAT gives us a strong and collective voice to negotiate with governments to include accessible tourism into their development agenda.

It is hoped that all links in the tourism chain will become accessible.  Speaking at the conference,  Annagrazia Laura, president of European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), stressed that providing barrier-free environment means that from arrival to departure, visitors must be guaranteed an unbroken and seamless chain of accessibility.  “If just one link in the chain is broken, such as inaccessible monuments and tourist attractions, the holiday experience will be spoilt” said Laura.

Joseph Kwan, chair, International Commission on Technology & Accessibility, Rehabilitation International also attended the conference.  “Once governments realise that people with disabilities and the senior market are a sizable population with disposable incomes to spend and can contribute significantly to foreign exchange earnings, employment generation and social inclusion, they will be more willing to act, to create barrier-free travel for all” said Kwan.   Kwan stressed the importance of governments to do audits on the current status of tourism accessibility in order to develop policies and plans regarding accessibility and human rights.

Follow on Twitter: @EUaccesstourism

WCET praises UNWTO, partners initiatives on Accessible Tourism

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Croydon (6)

 The fourteenth meeting of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics meeting in Rome, Italy (17-18 November 2014) commended the efforts of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and its partners to advance Accessible Tourism for All. The Committee firmly supported the “Montreal Declaration – A World for All”, the outcome document of the recent World Summit on Destinations for, and participated actively in the 1st Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe held in San Marino on 19-20 November.  Besides the issue of accessibility, the Committee also debated the ethical implications of the promotion of fair models of all-inclusive holidays, the impact on tourism of unfounded ratings on travel portals and the effect of the rise of sharing economy in tourism.  “The tourism sector is undergoing great changes…. which we have to understand and reflect in our initiatives”, said Pascal Lamy, chair of the Committee.

The World Committee on Tourism Ethics is the independent body responsible for promoting and monitoring the implementation of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism.  The UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism is a set of principles designed to guide the development of tourism in a way that maximizes the socio-economic benefits of the sector, while minimizing any negative impacts. It was adopted by the UNWTO General Assembly in 1999 and endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2001.  The Committee – a subsidiary organ of the UNWTO General Assembly – reports directly to the Assembly. Members are elected in their personal capacities and not as officials of governments or representatives of their countries.

Links: WCET http://ethics.unwto.org/en/content/world-committee-tourism-ethics  UNWTO http://www2.unwto.org/ Conference on Accessible Tourism  http://www.accesstourismnz.org.nz/2014/03/unwto-san-marino-to-hold-first-european-conference-on-accessible-tourism/  Destinations for All http://www.destinationsforall2014.com/en/declaration#.VG_V7cIcRYc  UNWTO/San Marino 1st European

Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @Keroul1979 @RisiMarcelo @Fundacion_ONCE @SanMarinoxTutti @undesadspd @UNWTO @DPT20141

The 20 most accessible tourist attractions in Britain

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Science Museum London early computer

 

The 20 most accessible places for people with disabilities in Britain have been named.  The attractions were chosen by the tourism boards of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.  In naming the attractions Mark Harper, Minister of State for Disabled people pointed out that businesses were missing out if they did not cater for people with disabilities.  “There are eleven million people with a disability in Britain and they and theor families have a spending power of over £200bn”, said Harper.  The minister pointed out that it takes little to make businesses more accessible. 

The accessible attractions include the Science Museum in London, Cadbury World in Birmingham, The National Childrens Museum on Halifax Yorkshire, Red kite Spotting in the Cambrian Mountains of Wales, the royal Yatch Britannia in Edinburgh, and the Titanic building, Belfast.

As Sophie Morgan – who works for VisitBritain to promote accessible UK attractions has pointed out, people with disabilities “travel in groups and will generally stay in accommodation longer – a dream for hoteliers”.  While some issues with access are problematic – especially in heritage buildings, in other instances problems could be fixed by sumply adding a few photos to a website.  People with disabilities often spend hours researching a trip, “simply because companies fail to provide the correct information, including pictures, on their websites”, said Morgan.  As well as better, more accurate information about access, Morgan would like to see greater consistency among rail operators and airlines when dealing with disabled passengers, and the establishment of a nationwide online portal to provide reliable detailed information on accessible attractions.

Follow on Twitter: @Telegraph @sophmorgan @VisitBritain @VisitScotland @VisitWales @DiscoverNI