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


UNWTO FITUR session on accessible tourism and technology

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Person with a disability using an iPhone image from UNWTO

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has for a number of years supported the facilitation of tourist travel by people  with disabilities as a vital element of any responsible and sustainable tourism development policy.   The Role of Technology in Accessible Tourism For All is one of several topics to be addressed at the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) in Madrid January 28-February 1.   FITUR is a global meeting point for tourism professionals and the leading trade fair for inbound and outbound Ibero American markets.   It was attended by 9,083 exhibiting companies from 165 countries/ regions, 120,231 trade participants and 97,549 people from the general public in 2014.  Also present were 7,368 journalists from 60 countries, a turnout that demonstrates the importance of FITUR on the international circuit of tourism sector events.

The Role of Technology in Accessible Tourism For All is a session at FITUR organized by UNWTO, Fundación ONCE and PREDIF (Plataforma Representativa Estatal de Personas con Discapacidad Física) in collaboration with IFEMA and Vodafone España.  It will highlight good practices in the development and use of new technologies in the fields of travel, tourism and leisure. It will also address the major challenges for generalizing the use of these technologies in the various links of the accessibility chain in tourism.  New technologies can contribute to making the tourism experience more accessible and rewarding for everyone, including seniors, persons with disabilities and others with reduced mobility.   During the session, there will be a presentation of the Manual on Accessible Tourism for All (UNWTO/ONCE Foundation/ENAT) by Marina Diotallevi, Programme Manager, Ethics & Social Responsibility, UNWTO.

Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @UNWTO_pub @EUaccesstourism @Fundacion_ONCE @feriafitur @Predif_Estatal #FITUR2015

UNWTO Manual on Accessible Tourism for All: Principles, Tools and Good Practices

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Sams Tower 156

The Manual on Accessible Tourism for All: Principles, Tools and Good Practices (in Spanish), is UNWTO’s second publication on universal accessibility and has been co-produced with the Spanish ONCE Foundation for social inclusion of people with disabilities and the European Network for Accessible Tourism – ENAT.  The manual will be key to the international community in understanding the chain of accessibility in tourism, the economic impact of Accessible Tourism, and steps that can be taken to create accessible destinations according to the principles of Design for All.    The manual provides a framework of interventions, tools and resources in service delivery and management of Accessible Tourism. Through these instruments, UNWTO aims to encourage stakeholders in the sector to implement measures to increase greater participation of different population groups in tourism, including people with disabilities and others.

The publication is divided into five distinct modules that respond to major accessibility issues in tourism: general context, recommendations main intervention areas, indicators for national tourism administrations and good international practices.  It is Module I – the first part of the Manual to be published – and will be followed by 4 remaining technical modules targeting various tourism stakeholders.

Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @UNWTO_pub @EUaccesstourism @Fundacion_ONCE

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

WTM London Seminar on the Accessible Tourism Market

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World Travel Maarket logo


The World Travel Market (WTM in London is holding a seminar entitled “Preparing your Destination for the Accessible Tourism Market: Lessons from Research and Practice”.  The seminar is presented by two leaders in the field, the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT,, and Visit Flanders.  Building on the experiences of three leading European accessible tourism destinations, four National Tourism Organization (NTO) managers will explain the business strategies and practical tools they are using to serve this growing market.   In addition, results of three major new studies of Accessible Tourism in Europe: Demand, Supply and Skills Requirements, conducted for the European Commission, will be outlined and discussed by researchers, pointing to recommended policies and actions for NTOs and Destination Management Organizations (DMOs).

The session will be organised as a panel discussion, moderated by European Commission Tourism Policy Officer,  Antonella Correra, addressing these 3 main themes in turn:

 Where is the demand? Reaching the accessible tourism market.

 Mind the accessibility gap. Supply-side requirements and the delivery of accessible services.

 What are the skills requirements and how do we build capacity in the tourism sector to create accessible destinations and businesses?

Speakers include Ross Calladine, Head of Business Support, VisitEngland, Katrien Mampaey & Pieter Ghijsels, VisitFlanders, Belgium, Olaf Schlieper, German National Tourist Board, Graham Miller, School of Tourism Management, University of Surrey, UK, Severine Guisset, Project Manager GfK, Belgium, Chris Veitch, Accessible Tourism Consultant, ENAT, and Kei Ito, Researcher, Valdani Vicari & Associati (VVA), UK.   

 The event will occur at ExCeL, London, 1 Western Gateway, Royal Victoria Dock on 4 November  from 16.00 to 17.30.   Source: ENAT website.  Follow on Twitter: @WTM_London @EUaccesstourism @VisitFlanders @VisitEngland @ChrisGVeitch @GermanyTourism @SHTMatSurrey @GfKBelgium

New accessible services map on Pantou

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Woman in a wheelchair on a boat Thanks to Pantou – The European Accessible Tourism Directory – now has a map view of accessible services. Pantou (Greek for “Everywhere”) provides information about suppliers of accessible tourism services in all European Union and Accession countries, as well as suppliers such as travel agents and tour operators who provide accessible services to Europe-inbound customers.  The Directory makes it easier for tourists with any kind of access needs to find what they are looking for when planning a visit.  It also promotes European accessible tourism suppliers, showing places to go and things to do – in safety and with convenience and comfort.  Suppliers who are listed on Pantou provide a wide variety of tourism services, including accommodation, facilities, transport, tours, venues and attractions that are designed to be inclusive and accessible for people who have a disability, long-term health condition or other specific accessibility requirements.  Registration on the site of accessible tourism suppliers is free.

The website is supported by the European Union Commission and managed by the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT  Follow on Twitter: @Pantou_tourism @EUaccesstourism @EU_Commission

Tourism Guides for People with Learning and Intellectual Difficulties in Europe

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T GuIDE logo from website

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

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

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

EU Commission ‘Mainstreaming Accessibility’ Across All European Tourism Policies

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At the EU Tourism Stakeholders’ Conference, “Mind the Accessibility Gap“, Pedro Ortún, Director for Service Industries, Directorate General Enterprise and Industry declared that accessibility is to be a permanent element of the EU’s future tourism policies.  Speaking to an audience of over 200 tourism professionals and representatives of NGOs,  Ortún laid out the Commission’s vision for tourism policy development and actions in the coming years.  “The ‘Key Enabling Themes’ (KETS) for the future of European Tourism include accessibility, as a permanent element”, said  Ortún.   He pointed to the Commission’s continued focus on quality, sustainability and reaching new tourism markets, particularly the seniors market.   As the fifth largest sector in the European economy, tourism should be seen as a key driver of growth and jobs – and therefore deserving of wide recognition and support from Member States and the European Union as a whole.  “Mainstreaming accessibility means that access for all citizens has to be integrated in all our tourism activities at every level”, Ortún concluded.

 Source: European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT).  Follow on Twitter: @EUaccesstourism  @EU_enterprise

EU free June conference on Accessible Tourism: registration open

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Mind the Accessibility Gap conference logo

The European Commission, DG Enterprise and Industry, is organising a conference with the title: Mind the Accessibility Gap for all tourism stakeholders as Europe strengthens its efforts to make Europe a destination Accessible For AllAt the conference, the results of three specially commissioned studies on Tourism Accessibility in Europe will be presented and discussed by a panel of tourism practitioners and stakeholders.  The aim of the conference is to have an open debate about the evidence presented, and seek ways to bridge the many accessibility gaps that have been identified, by drawing on proven good practices from around Europe and establishing concrete actions, using the support mechanisms which the European Commission has at its disposal.  The three studies have made a ‘360 degree’ review of accessible tourism in Europe, looking at the economic opportunities and factors which influence the demand, the quality and extent of supply, and the need for training and skills improvement in the tourism sector.  Within the framework of the Commission’s “Preparatory Action on Accessible Tourism, 2012 – 2014”, which was requested by the European Parliament, recommendations will be presented for possible Commission’s actions, designed to tackle the current accessibility gaps in supply and skills and to chart a course towards achieving Tourism for All in Europe within as short a time-frame as possible.

The European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) is assisting the Commission with the organisation of the event.  Registration for the free conference is now invited and must be completed by 2nd June in order to attend.

Source: Press release.  Follow on Twitter: @EU_enterprise  @EUaccesstourism

UNWTO, EC endorse accessible tourism at recent meeting in Vicenza Italy

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From Wikipedia A collage of Vicenza showing: the Villa Capra "La Rotonda", the classical temple in the Parco Querini, a panorama of the city from the Monte Berico, the Piazza dei Signori and the Renaissance Basilica Palladiana.

Delegates at a recent meeting of MITA (International Meeting for Accessible Tourism) in Vicenza, Italy heard a video message from United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General Taleb Rifai.  Rifai highlighted the importance of accessible tourism.  “Accessibility is the across-the-board element of a policy of responsible and sustainable tourism. Accessible Tourism is both an ethical imperative and a business opportunity: everyone benefits from it, not just people with disabilities or specific needs” said Rifai. “That’s why Accessible Tourism, as stated in the UNWTO Advice 2013, has become an important Mission for our future”.

Also at the meeting, Massimo Baldinato of the Cabinet of Antonio Tajani, confirmed the willingness of the European Commission to work on the development of Accessible Tourism in a speech highlighting that “giving more quality to tourism means increasing the satisfaction of all tourists, developing a tourism that seeks excellence”.

Other speakers at the meeting included Victor Calise, New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD), Igor Stefanovic, UNWTO Ethics and Social Dimensions of Tourism Program, Ivor Ambrose and others from the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), and Karen Staley, VP, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (Iaapa).   The meeting was organised by VillageForAll (V4A®), Regione del Veneto and Fiera Di Vicenza in cooperation with UNWTO, and with the sponsorship of the European Commission (EC), European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) and EXPO 2015.

Source: Press release.  Follow on Twitter: @Villageforall @UNWTO @EUaccesstourism @NycCalise @NYC_MOPD @IAAPAHQ @IAAPAEuropeVP


Accessibility Pass extended to needs of seniors

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Boomer couple from 50 plus Hellas website

ACCESSIBILITY PASS, the global certification scheme that classifies hotels’ accessibility level based on their infrastructure, services and personnel skills, is extending its scope to ensure that it addresses the accessibility needs of Senior Citizens. The Greek older people’s organization 50plus Hellas is contributing valuable input regarding particular aspects of the Senior Citizen arm of the scheme. 50plus Hellas is a non-governmental and not-for-profit organization, which aims to improve the quality of life of those over 50 years of age in Greece. The ACCESSIBILITY PASS “Senior Citizen Friendly” certification is awarded to hotels successfully assessed for fulfilling the scheme’s related criteria.  Source: ENAT Twitter: @EUaccesstourism

First Euro-Arab Accessible Tourism for All & Jordan Tourism for All Forum & Expo: السياحة يمكن الوصول إليها

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Temple at Petra Jordan

The Jordan Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, in collaboration with the European Network for Accessible Tourism, (ENAT), Jordan MICE and the Aqaba-Red Sea Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), have organized the first forum, exposition, and accessibility training sessions in Euro-Arab cooperation for sustainable accessible destinations (Tourism for All).  The event is under the patronage of HRH Prince Ra’ad Bin Zeid, Lord Chamberlain to His Majesty the King, Chairman of the Higher Council for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities (HCD) and Chairman of Forum Higher Committee.  It will run 11-13 December.

The organizers invite decision makers, professionals, technicians and NGOs to attend:

  • tourism industry executives, officials in government, UN, EU and Euro-Arab agencies,
  • tourism and travel service providers from arrival-to-departure;
  • agencies related to tourism and economic development, employability for integration of persons with disabilities;
  • SMEs, training & skills development, research, education
  • in/out-bound travel industry leaders
  • any who need to stay ahead and understand the dynamics of the accessible tourism market, the trends, and the challenges facing the industry
  • any wishing to learn how to prepare for, attract and sustain this Euro-Arab      emerging and fast growing market (estimated at 203 million Euro-MENA      potential tourists if access requirements met)
  • any wishing to identify measures and actions that develop better, inclusive      and accessible destinations for everyone in Jordan and the Middle      East/North Africa (MENA) in order to increase the arrivals of international tourists with specific access requirements

The meeting also intends to

  • Establish a regional Euro-Arab partnership platform for coordination and      cooperation, with the purpose to exchange leading-edge policies and      practices for better accessible destinations, in order to increase the market shares between the two regions.
  • Declare a “Resolution/Manifesto” within the theme of “MENA-EURO RED      SEA ACCESSIBLE TOURISM FOR EVERYONE “, with a focus on what each actor and stakeholder should do to enhance national, regional and      universal accessibility;
  • Inaugurate the MENA-ENAT REGIONAL OFFICE, hosted in AMMAN-JORDAN by Jordan Tourism Board (JTB), to act as a liaison and facilitator organization with all Euro-Arab partners, to develop an accessible tourism common regional strategy to promote universal accessibility;
  • Establish the first ARAB-NETWORK FOR ACCESSIBLE TOURISM (ANAT), with the aim to promote and develop start-ups National – Networks for Accessible Tourism for All within Middle Eastern and North African Countries;
  • Launch ENAT-ANAT Destinations Excellency Award, for tourist sites that best represent ‘Accessible Tourism’, to give accessible tourism more visibility and that destinations all around MENA region to start following Award Winners as their example;
  • Launch a regional EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT FUND INITIATIVE and a REGIONAL TRAINING HUB with the purpose to prepare the industry chain of service providers and integrate people with disabilities into TOURISM LABOUR MARKET and deliver access product offers and

 Other aims of the meeting and registration information can be found on the ENAT website.

Follow on Twitter: @VisitJordan @JITOA @EUaccesstourism


Creating an accessible tourism network in the Netherlands

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Guest blog by Veroniek Maat, a one-time intern at the New Zealand Tourism Research Institute at AUT University, with a Masters in  Leisure, Tourism, and Environment from Wageningen University, The Netherlands.  Maat has written a number of guest articles for Access Tourism NZ in the past.

Logo from Accessible Travel Netherlands website and photo of old buildings and canal

Since accessible tourism became a subject to me, which is now almost 3 years ago, the tourism industry still surprises me. It’s especially the lack of communication that constraints people with disabilities to travel. For the Dutch people with disabilities, the lack of accessible architecture and transport is the most frustrating. When trying to get from one place to another, the majority of Dutch people with a physical disability use a privately owned adapted car. Taking the public transport is too complicated and too time consuming. The same accounts for elderly people. A lot of new trains for example, don’t have toilets. Restaurants construct another barrier, as they are mostly situated in old buildings and even if they are not, they have stairs at the entrance many times. There are a number of Dutch websites that provide information about accessible restaurants and other public buildings, but unfortunately this information is often old or incomplete. The reason is that local governments temporarily finance these projects, but after a while the funding stops and research does too.

You can imagine that it’s difficult for visitors from abroad to get around in our country. Information is not available in English and the infrastructure lacks access. This is a shame because visitors have great expectations of access in the Netherlands and we have a lot to offer! In order to find a solution for this problem, I started the company Accessible Travel Netherlands in 2010, aiming to improve the availability of information for (potential) tourists. I studied the accessibility of travel, accommodations and tourist attractions in Amsterdam and at other tourist places and published this on the website. I soon found that travel agents from abroad contacted me to organize holidays for them. Now I receive holiday requests from travel agents, organizations and individuals from the US, UK, Scotland, Spain, Belgium, Germany and France. Travel agents include for example Can Be Done Ltd (UK), Accessible Journeys (US) and Viajes2000 (ES).

In order to make the Netherlands an overall accessible destination, I cooperate with other organizations that care about accessibility. With these organizations we now have a network in which we share knowledge, contacts, business and experiences.  Thanks to this cooperation, I can offer a ‘no hassle holiday experience’ for people with disabilities and co-travellers. The holidays include accessible accommodation, accessible transport (taxi’s/coaches), rivers cruises, wheelchair bikes, tours with guides specialized in accessibility and the possibility to rent assistive devices. The network enables me to also offer cross-country holidays, since there is a travel agency for outgoing accessible holidays involved. One of the other companies in the network – – developed an application that navigates to accessible spots such as toilets, restaurants, sites of interest, parking spots etc.

Networks within Europe support the development of accessible tourism in the Netherlands.  STEEP (Social Tourism European Exchanges Platform) will soon launch the website This website will encourage European sellers and buyers of accessible tourism to come together and cooperate. This website is led by the ISTO (International Social Tourism Organization) and co-funded by the European Commission. Being a member of ENAT (European Network for Accessible Tourism) brings a lot of benefits, such as intercontinental contacts, knowledge and events. The ENAT website was translated to Dutch and can now be read by Dutch people as well, raising awareness about the topic.

Accessible Travel Netherlands can be contacted at Twitter: @AccessTravelNL

EARTH European conference on Accessible Tourism in December

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European Alliance for Responsible Tourism and Hospitality French language poster for the conference

The European Alliance for Responsible Tourism and Hospitality (EARTH) is holding a conference entitled “European realities of Responsible Tourism” in Brussels on December 2 2013.   The conference will focus on Accessibility in Tourism.  It will examine such themes as access in responsible and social tourism and how tourism organizations are contributing to making tourism accessible.  Speakers will include

  • EARTH: Jose Maria De Juan Alonso, vice-president of EARTH “Is responsible tourism accessible as a tourist, as a citizen and as worker?”
  • European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), Anna Grazia Laura, president, “Accessibility in Tourism, an opportunity for everybody”
  • Naturefriends International, Christian Baumgartner, general secretary: “Political demands and publication of good practices concerning accessible tourism”.
  • International Organisation of Social Tourism (ISTO), Jean-Marc Mignon,      president: “Memorandum about accessibility in tourism and social      tourism”.

The conference precedes the United Nations and European Day for People with Disabilities (UN Enable) on the 3rd of December.

EARTH is the first European network composed of private organizations based in 7 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Germany, France, and Spain).  EARTH has one main goal: to transform and unite Europe in “One Europe for Responsible Tourism”. The network brings to life the principles of sustainability, fairness and solidarity in the tourism field, by promoting the exchange of good practices, experience and knowledge among its members.  Responsible tourism complies with the principles of social and economic justice and exerts full respect for environments and cultures. It recognizes the centrality of the local host community and its right to act as a protagonist in developing sustainable and responsible tourism on its land. Responsible tourism actuates fostering of positive interaction among the tourist industry, the local communities and the travelers (EARTH).

Accessible Tourism one of WTM’s 2013 Main Themes

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World Travel Market logo from their website

The World Travel Market’s (WTM) Responsible Tourism aims to bring together travel companies, organisations and individuals interested in spreading sustainable practices and ethical methods within the travel industry. WTM holds an annual World Responsible Tourism Day in association with the UNWTO.  Accessibility is one of the WTM’s World Responsible Tourism Day 2013 Main Themes, and this year’s conference has a panel of experts discussing accessible tourism.  These include Ross Calladine, Head of Business Support, VisitEngland, Marina Diotallevi, Programme Manager – Ethics & Social Dimensions of Tourism World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Arnold Fewell, AVF Marketing,  Tim Gardiner MBE, Chair Tourism for All UK and Accessible Tourism Stakeholders Forum, Olaf Schlieper Innovations Manager at the German National Tourist Board, Brian Seaman Access New Business, and Chris Veitch European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT).

Jeremy Smith, writing for WTM, sees accessible tourism as growing to become the largest travel market.  Smith notes that destinations and businesses risk missing out if they are inaccessible.  In the UK alone, for example, there are over 10 million people with disabilities so it is good business to make as many services as possible accessible. Worldwide, the accessible tourism market is 1.3bn people, which when their friends and family are considered, increases to a market of 2.2bn people. Together they control over US$8 trillion in annual disposable income. “This is not a niche”, writes Smith.  It is a market that is also growing and may “soon be the biggest single section of the market – simply because our population is ageing.” McKinsey predicts that by 2015 the baby boomer generation will command almost 60% of US wealth and in the travel sector, boomers will account for over 50% of consumption.  Over 40% of these baby boomers will be retiring with some form of disability, which increases the value of this sector alone to over 25% of the market by 2020. “How might attitudes towards accessible services change when the market includes our parents, our older friends, and before too long, ourselves?” asks Smith.

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.


New European Commission “European Accessible Cities Award” Will Stimulate Access Tourism for All

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Berlaymont Building Brussels EC

The European Commission has announced a new, annual European Award for Accessible Cities.  The award aims to promote accessibility for people with disabilities in four areas: the built environment and public spaces, transport and related infrastructures, information and communication, and public facilities and services. The four finalists of the European competition will be invited to attend the award ceremony that will take place in Brussels on 2 and 3 December 2010 at the European Day of People with Disabilities conference. The winner of the European competition will receive the ‘European Award for Accessible Cities 2011’ and will feature prominently in activities to promote accessibility at European level during 2011.   In addition, a special ‘European Champion for Accessible Cities’ award will be made to recognise the work of a network of cities or initiatives.

Commenting on the awards, Ivor Ambrose, Managing Director of the European Network for Accessible Tourism, the industry watchdog and advisory group said, ”From the perspective of the tourism industry, the European Awards for Accessible Cities are a welcome initiative. We hope these awards will give recognition to cities that have been directing investment towards accessible tourism facilities and services. It should also stimulate cities across Europe to put even more effort into ‘Tourism for All’ – catering to all visitors who need good access”.  He continued, ”Disabled visitors, older travellers and families with small children can all benefit from better access in accommodation, attractions and public transport. Many barriers must still be removed and well-designed services are also very much needed. Cities can profit enormously if they gain a reputation for being accessible and welcoming, not only for holiday tourists but also for the business and conference sector”.

Recent statistics from VisitEngland show that guests with disabilities and long-term health problems, with their accompanying travellers, made up 11% of the visitor overnight stays in 2009, with a value of 2 billion pounds. Trips by this group tend to be longer than average and as a result their spend per trip is higher.