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

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Spain: Survey of Accessible Tourism

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ONCE Foundation for cooperation and social Inclusion of disabled people is Spain’s leading disabilities foundation (Fundacion ONCE). Since 2011, the Universal Accessibility Directorate of the Foundation has been running multiple researches on Universal Accessibility in different environments such as urban planning, transport, and beyond. During 2015 and 2016 the Observatory will focus the research on the situation of Accessible Tourism in Spain. Accessible tourism accommodates not only people with disabilities, but families with children, people with trolleys, bags, and with special needs over a lifetime.

Spain welcomes over 53 million international tourists a year and tourist activity is 10.9% of GDP. Current tourism trends show an increased sophistication of supply and demand, the presence of older tourists, and the ever increasing demand for quality.   The Foundation has created a questionnaire for tourists who have travelled to Spain. Data gathered by this research will help analyse consumers’ habits and diagnose the state of accessibility in tourism facilities. The survey has questions about frequency of travel, preferred destinations in Spain, means of transport, and other factors. In addition, there are questions about satisfaction with adaptation of tourist facilities, resources and services regarding the needs of travellers.

This questionnaire is open to ALL TOURISTS, whether having a disability or not, who want to participate in this study and wish to contribute regarding their travelling experience. It can be found here: http://www.reducedmobility.eu/20150909648/TheNews/once-foundation-launch-survey-on-spanish-accessible-tourism
Source: Reduced Mobility. Follow on Twitter: @ReducedMobility @Fundacion_ONCE @ILUNION

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

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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

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

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

Basque developing accessible tourism for all

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The  Basque Country is a region at the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France.  It is currently working to create “Tourism for All in Basque Country“.  This is one of a number of accessible tourism projects funded by the European Commission.  The project involves developing further an already existing accessibility model to include standards for new services and packages in six itineraries in the country.  The undertaking includes consideration of the whole tourism value chain and involves access assessment of each tourism facility, improvement of the skills of tourism providers to cater for people with access needs, creating tourism packages for people with different access needs, and commercialization and promotion of the access offer through standard and also specific channels.

The lead coordinator of the project is the Fundacion Instituto Gerontologico Matia-Ingema, and partners include various tourism bodies within Spain.  Source: European Commission.    Follow on Twitter: @EU_Growth @MatiaFundazioa

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

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

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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

Scandic Hotels wins awards for freely available accessibility training

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Accessible room Scandic Hotels website

Scandic Hotels is a leader in making accessible accommodation open to everyone (see the many reports on this website).  Now Scandic’s accessibility training has won first prize for best interactive training at the Swedish Learning Awards 2014 and also took home silver in the British E-learning Awards.  Scandic is the leading hotel operator in Nordic countries. Just over 10 years ago Scandic started making its hotels more accessible for people with disabilities.   Part of this effort includes the development of a wide-ranging interactive training programme for all the hotel chain’s employees with the aim of fostering an understanding of different types of accessibility challenges and the importance of treating all guests properly. At the end of 2013, Scandic made interactive training openly available to all on its own website in order to improve awareness.  “Every day we see people from outside Scandic completing our training on the website. Receiving an award for this is the icing on the cake and something that makes us particularly proud. It shows that the issue of accessibility is an important one,” says Scandic’s Director of Accessibility Magnus Berglund. In the Swedish E-learning awards Scandic won in the category “Best e-learning profit-making business” in Sweden. The jury said: “An easy-to-use interface with inspiring shifts in perspective that enable a wide target group to realise and understand that when staying at a hotel not everyone enjoys the same experience on the same terms.”   Scandic also won silver for the best e-learning product in the British E-learning Awards, amid  tough competition from 250 international entries. Follow on Twitter: @ScandicGlobal @ScandicNorge

VisitEngland funded by EC to promote Accessible Tourism

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At the start of World Travel Market this week, VisitEngland (http://www.visitengland.com/) announced plans for a national drive to promote England as a leading destination for accessible tourism, following a successful bid for funding from the European Commission.   The announcement came as new research by VisitEngland shows the overnight accessible tourism market is now worth £3billion to the England economy, with day visits bringing the figure up to £12.4billion.  The ‘Access for All’ project will be funded by a grant of €125,000 from the European Commission. VisitEngland will partner with seven destinations – including Bath, Leicestershire, Newcastle Gateshead, and Brighton –  to develop and promote their destination for visitors with access needs. As part of this, 56 businesses will be involved in a process to improve their accessibility. Informative visitor guides will be created for each destination to put on show the wide breadth of tourism experiences available, and to promote local tourism businesses that are providing a warm welcome to all visitors, including those with access needs.   VisitEngland will also deliver a national marketing campaign which will go live in late summer/early autumn 2015 to showcase the experiences on offer for visitors with access needs, and encourage more people to take a short break in England.

James Berresford, Chief Executive of VisitEngland noted that as the national tourist board, VisitEngland is committed to ensuring England is a destination that offers a warm welcome for all visitors. “The Access for All project is a fantastic opportunity to continue to build England’s reputation as a leader in accessible tourism, and help grow this important and valuable market, now worth £3billion to England’s economy” said Berresford.   Minister for Tourism, Helen Grant said that the “ Access for All project will help disabled people enjoy England’s world beating tourist destinations. The tourism sector is making a significant contribution to economic growth in this country and we want to keep up that momentum by ensuring our destinations are welcoming to all.”

VisitEngland has taken a leading role in supporting and encouraging tourism businesses to make the most of this valuable market. The project, which will run from October 2014 until March 2016, will expand on VisitEngland’s pilot Access for All project which supported four destinations to create accessible experiences, accompanied by a national marketing campaign launched in March this year with the support of top Paralympians.

Today (4/11/2012), VisitEngland’s lead on Access, Ross Calladine and a host of other speakers will present a WTM Seminar: “Preparing your Destinations for the Accessible Tourism Market: Lessons from Research Practice” in London. 

For more information and to view the full infographic on the Volume and Value of Accessible Tourism in England see http://www.visitengland.org/busdev/bussupport/access/buscase/index.aspx

VisitEngland provides a number of tools and resources to help tourism operators accommodate people with access needs, available at www.visitengland.org/access – including:

• Access Statements – A free online tool allowing businesses to create a description of their premises, to inform people with access needs.

• Online Disability Awareness Training – this online course was developed in partnership with DisabledGO, and is designed to help tourism businesses deliver a warm welcome and excellent service to disabled customers.

• VisitEngland also provides tourism information for people with physical and sensory needs at www.visitengland.com/accessforall

About the European Commission Grant:

 • In July 2014, VisitEngland’s application to the grant programme in the framework of the Preparatory Action, “Tourism and Accessibility for All” was approved by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry.  €125,000 was awarded to the “Access for All” project over an 18-month period up to 31 March 2016 aimed at the design, implementation, promotion and marketing of accessible tourism guides.

• VisitEngland is one of seven successful project applicants, including other organisations from Germany, Italy and Spain.

• Link to the accessible tourism webpage on the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry website.

 Source: VisitEnglandhttp://www.visitengland.org/media/pressreleases/2014/european-commission-grant-to-fund-visitengland-access-for-all-project.aspx  .  Follow on Twitter: @VisitEngland @WTMLondon @RossCalladine @HelenGrantMP @JBerresfordVE

WTM London Seminar on the Accessible Tourism Market

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The World Travel Market (WTM www.wtmlondon.com/) 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, http://www.accessibletourism.org), 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

EC call for “Tourism Accessibility for All” submissions

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The European Commission Enterprise and Industry call for submissions in “Tourism Accessibility for All” will close on the 21st October 2014.  The call implements the Commission’s 2010 Communication on tourism, with particular reference to the diversification of European cultural/industrial tourism and accessible tourism.  It is also part of the third and last year of two Preparatory Actions proposed by the European Parliament and approved by the EU budgetary authority, respectively on “Transnational Tourism Products” and “Tourism Accessibility for All”.

The Fostering accessible tourism entrepreneurship and management  theme concerns supporting the development and provision of Accessible Tourism “Capacity Building Schemes” for tourism managers and entrepreneurs. Its ultimate purpose is to encourage the uptake of business practices and strategic planning which mainstream accessibility and “Universal Design” priorities in the tourism sector. Universal Design (often called inclusive design) is a framework for the design of places, things, information, communication and policy to be usable by the widest range of people operating in the widest range of situations without special or separate design. Most simply, Universal Design is human-centred design of everything with everyone in mind, including older people, people without disabilities, and people with disabilities.

Follow on twitter: @EU_enterprise

New accessible services map on Pantou

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Woman in a wheelchair on a boat Thanks to Pantou

Pantou.org – 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 http://www.accessibletourism.org/).  Follow on Twitter: @Pantou_tourism @EUaccesstourism @EU_Commission

Conference: Innovative approaches to accessibility and heritage protection in Accessible Tourism

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The European Foundation Centre (EFC  http://www.efc.be/news_events/Pages/SAVE-THE-DATE!-Accessible-Tourism-Innovative-approaches-between-accessibility-and-heritage-protection0624-3730.aspx ) will hold a conference at the European Economic and Social Committee venue, Brussels examining approaches to accessibility and heritage protection in accessible Tourism.  The meeting will be held on 5/12/14, and will focus on four aspects of access and heritage protection, namely, services, partnerships, cultural heritage, and technological solutions.  Because tourism is seen as an important source of growth for the economy of Europe, investment in the accessible tourism sector will benefit everyone.  The conference will tackle the issue of challenges in protecting historical heritage while making it accessible to all.  Examples from the work of the League of Accessible and Historical Cities (LAHC http://www.lhac.eu/ ) will illustrate the discussion. LACH is a practical and innovative project carried out in the framework of the European Foundation Center Consortium of Foundations on Human Rights and Disability, which has been implemented in six European cities.  In these cities, eleven foundations are collaborating with local and national authorities, civil society, architects, and experts to improve the accessibility and protection of historical heritage.

Follow on Twitter @The_EFC

Tourism Guides for People with Learning and Intellectual Difficulties in Europe

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

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

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

Economic Impact and Travel patterns of Accessible Tourism in Europe

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

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

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

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

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

 Follow on Twitter: @UKguchan

EU opens Access City Awards 2015

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

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

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

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

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

EU Commission ‘Mainstreaming Accessibility’ Across All European Tourism Policies

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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

Greece to develop accessible tourism

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Wheelchair user at the Parthenon photo from ENAT

The Greek Tourism Ministry (GTM) and the Greek National Confederation of Disabled People (ESAmeA) will work together so that people with disabilities will have access in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.  GTM and ESAmeA signed a cooperative protocol at a meeting on 28 March to promote and implement actions – on a national level – to ensure the accessibility of infrastructure and services to people with disabilities and other social groups with similar characteristics.

“This agreement aims to coordinate actions so that the (Greek) tourism product is accessible to people with disabilities of all categories,” Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni said.  According to the tourism minister, potential foreign visitors with a disability currently do not choose Greece as a holiday destination as not all of the country’s services are accessible.  “We want to change this,” she said.  The agreement will also aim to ensure that people with disabilities will have access to reliable tourism information and communications.

ESAmeA President Ioannis Vardakastanis suggested during the meeting the creation of an access and information guide for people with disabilities, an idea that Kefalogianni found excellent.  The tourism ministry intends to inform Greek tourism professionals of the potential benefits of accessible tourism. Actions for accessible tourism in Greece will be coordinated at both the government level and at the level of regions and municipalities.

Source: Press release. Follow on Twitter: @OKefalogianni

 

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