Scandic Hotels– World Travel Market winner for accessible accommodation

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Scandic Hotels – already a world leader in access – is the joint gold winner in the category “Best accommodation for disability access” at Responsible Travel’s World Responsible Tourism Awards.   They received the award at a ceremony at the World Travel Market in London on November 4, 2015, for their work in providing accessible accommodations for travellers of all physical and mental abilities, seniors, and anyone needing better access.

“Scandic Hotels is applauded for their top-down, all-encompassing approach to inclusivity, integrating accessibility into all parts of their hotel business. They address a wide range of disabilities and particularly impressed the judges with their leadership by developing an e-learning course and making this freely available to their peers across the tourism industry,” said Harold Goodwin, Chair of the judging panel for the World Responsible Tourism Awards.

World Travel Market, which is held in London each year on World Responsible Tourism Day, is the largest travel and tourism event in the world. The accessible tourism award is sponsored by Enable Holidays, which was established in 2004 as the first UK tour operator to be accredited for its competence in auditing the accessibility and grading the suitability of accommodation abroad for people with mobility impairments

Scandic’s Accessibility Director, Magnus Berglund said at the awards, “I’m extremely happy that we have won this award. It is proof that the hard work we do to make our hotels accessible to everyone makes a difference and is recognized in the world”.   Scandic consults with organizations for people with disabilities, hotel guests, and team members to improve access.  They have drawn up a checklist of 110 points, their Accessibility Standard. This Standard covers everything offered by Scandic and it is an integral part of all of Scandic’s products and services. Scandic has also implemented smart design features in rooms to make them accessible for people with disabilities. In 2013, Scandic was the first hotel chain in the world to launch online interactive training on disabilities.  This training can be used by anyone who wishes to do so and is on Scandic’s website.

Scandic has featured many times on the Access Tourism NZ website.  Further information about them can be found by searching this website or by contacting Magnus Berglund, Director of Accessibility, Scandic Hotels, +46 70 97 35 077 Anna-Klara Lindholm, PR Manager Scandic Hotels, +46 70 97 35 231, anna-klara.lindholm@scandichotels.com

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

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“Map My Day”: an event for anyone to note accessible places anywhere

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MapMyDayLogo

A worldwide event to raise awareness for disability rights and accessibility kicks off on December 3.    The “Map My Day” campaign is designed to improve the availability  of information on the wheelchair accessibility of public places.  Such information is often scarce or hard to find, making it very difficult for people with mobility impairments to participate in communities.  “Map My Day” is being launched by the German NGO Sozialhelden (‘Social Heroes’), the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNESCO on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.   The Day marks the start of a worldwide event to raise awareness for accessibility. For millions of people with wheelchairs, walking aids, or baby carriages the most common obstacles which limit their freedom of movement are stairs.

People around the world can post the accessibility of public places such as restaurants, train stations, tourist attractions and government buildings on Wheelmap.org, a free online map which is also the world’s largest database for wheelchair accessible places. It is hoped that many people in many places around the world will contribute information to Wheelmap, and that a new conversations about accessibility is started, thus ensuring the success of the campaign.

The campaign not only addresses people with a disability. It is really easy for everybody to contribute to the map by adding new local information with a few clicks. In this way users have already rated nearly 600,000 public places, making the map the world’s largest database for wheelchair accessibility.   Wheelmap is available as an app for iPhone, Android Smartphone and Windows Phone   (Windows 10), as well as on the website www.wheelmap.org/en/map – in more than 20 languages.

Participants can be part of “MapMyDay” individually or in groups, with colleagues, teammates or friends and family.   NGOs, government authorities, businesses, schools, associations and celebrities are invited to help spread the word to their networks and ideally, to organize local mapping events themselves.   There is a checklist on the website to help individuals, businesses, and organizations set up events.

More information: http://mapmyday.org/en/ Follow on Twitter: @SOZIALHELDEN @WHO @UNESCO @wheelmap #Machmitbei #MapMyDay Fabebook: www.facebook.com/mapmyday

Tourism and Disabled Access Day in Scotland, 2016

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Bagpiper

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

Scandic Hotels finalist in World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 for access

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Bedroom-at-Scandic-Kristiansand[1] 

Scandic Hotels is a finalist in the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 in the category for “Best accommodation for disability access.” This category awards a hotel or other accommodation provider that is accessible and enjoyable for all, welcoming travelers of all physical and mental capabilities, and serves as an example to the tourism industry.  “I’m very proud that we have made it to the finals for such an important award thanks to our extensive work in the area of accessibility,” says Frank Fiskers, President & CEO of Scandic Hotels.

The judges consider accommodation providers who have integrated progressive policies and practices of inclusion and accessibility into the heart of their operations. It is not just about providing wheelchair access, but having an ethos of accessibility that runs through the entire company. Several Nordic tourism companies are included on the list of 37 finalists for the Awards,  but Scandic is the only hotel chain on the list.  “I’m really looking forward to attending the award ceremony and hope that we’ll take home the gold medal,” says Magnus Berglund, Accessibility Director, Scandic Hotels.”

Scandic Hotels is a chain with 155 hotels and around 30,000 rooms across Europe. Started in 1963, it has, over the years, increased accessibility in its hotels. It was the first hotel chain to appoint a Director of Accessibility to work on improving accessibility for disabled guests. Now all the hotels have rooms adapted to guests with special needs. Scandic has also improved online information about access at its hotel. Scandic Hotels has won numerous awards for accessibility over the years. For further information, see herehere, here, and here.

In 2013, Scandic was the first hotel chain in the world to launch on its website online interactive training on disabilities that is open to everyone. More information is available at Special needs.   Scandic believes that everyone should be offered the same high Scandic standard, regardless of ability. In consultation with organizations for people with special needs, hotel guests and team members, Scandic has drawn up a checklist of 110 points called Scandic’s Accessibility Standard. This standard covers everything offered by Scandic and it is an integral part of all of Scandic’s products and services. Scandic has also implemented smart design features in rooms to make them accessible for people with disabilities.

World Responsible Tourism Awards were founded by Responsible Travel in 2004 to celebrate the most inspiring stories in responsible tourism. The Awards are organized by Responsible Travel and ICRT (International Centre for Responsible Tourism). The award ceremony is hosted by World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry on World Responsible Tourism Day, November 4, 2015.  2014 winners in the access category can be seen here.

Source: press releases.   Follow on Twitter: @ScandicGlobal @WTM_London @RTAwards

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WTM London 2015 award for accessible accommodations

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Tourism businesses and organisations around the world are being considered for the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 at WTM London this November.  The prestigious awards scheme, co-founded and organised by Responsible Travel, is part of World Travel Market’s World Responsible Tourism Day – the largest day of responsible tourism action in the world – which takes place on Wednesday 4 November and  celebrates the most inspiring and innovative examples of responsible tourism in practice globally.  For a second year, Enable Holidays will support accessible tourism in the Awards. Enable Holidays was the first UK tour operator to be accredited for its competence in auditing the accessibility and grading the suitability of accommodations abroad for people with disability, seniors, slow walkers and others needing better access.  This year the category ‘Best Accommodation for Disability Access’ will be awarded to an hotel or place to stay that is accessible and enjoyable for all, welcoming travellers of all physical and mental capabilities and which can serve as an example to the wider tourism industry.

A major discussion topic at World Travel Market London last year, the accessible tourism category also produced one of the 2014 Awards Overall winners, Campo & Parque dos Sonhos, Brazil, recognised for “demonstrating that truly inclusive tourism can enhance the adventure activity experiences for everyone, and enable families and friends to share their leisure and the experiences”, according to Chair of the Judging Panel Professor Harold Goodwin.

Lynne Kirby, managing director of Enable Holidays, believes the awards can play an important role in promoting accessible holidays: ‘’As one of the pioneers of accessible travel, Enable Holidays is pleased to support initiatives that are helping to open up more of the world to disabled people”. By sponsoring the Access category, Enable Holidays is helping to promote the need for truly barrier-free holidays and keeping this important issue at the top of the agenda.

Follow on Twitter: @RTAwards @WTM_London @enableholidays #WRTA2015

Disability Access, World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015, WTM: now open for submissions

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Man with crutch at booking counter The World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 at WTM are now open and include the category “ Best accommodation for disability access”.    The Awards are part of the world’s largest event for responsible tourism action at the World Travel Market, London (WTM London).    The disability access category award will go to an entrant that is a place to stay that is accessible and enjoyable for all, welcomes travellers of all physical and mental capabilities, sets a standard for accessible tourism practices, and serves as an example to the tourism industry.  Responsible tourism should be accessible to all travellers.    The judges are looking for accommodation providers who have integrated progressive policies and practices of inclusion and accessibility into the heart of the business – this is not only about wheelchair access, but about an ethos of accessibility that runs throughout the hotel. The award is sponsored by Enable Holidays which was established in 2004 as the first UK tour operator to be accredited for its competence in auditing the accessibility and grading the suitability of accommodation abroad for people with mobility impairments. In addition to providing holidays for disabled travellers, Enable also caters for the elderly market, slow walkers and people looking for an easier way to get around and enjoy their holiday. Last year the award focused on access and attractions and facilities. Follow on Twitter: @WTM_WRTD @WTM_London @enableholidays

Science Museum London tips for improving access

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Science Museum London website banner showing exhibition

Writing recently on Scope, The Science Museum of London’s  Special Event Developers, Claire Hazell, shared some tips on how the Museum achieved recently being named as one of the top 20 most accessible tourist attractions in Britain.    As Special Events Developer, Hazell and her team write, develop and present a large programme of events aimed at families during holidays and weekends, and run a variety of events aimed at making the Science Museum accessible to everyone.   Regarding accessibility, the main points Hazell shared on Scope are:

1) There is a big difference between accessible and inclusive.  For example, the Museum’s  science shows, storytelling sessions and workshops are all presented in British Sign Language and are suitable for both deaf and hearing visitors.

2) Accessible means different things to different people. Making the museum accessible can mean different things for everyone. It could just mean giving someone a map so they can find their way around but it could also mean coming to an event which has provision for their needs. 3) Don’t make assumptions

3) Don’t make assumptions.  The Museum never assumes anything and makes sure it looks at developments from every angle and assumes nothing.

4) You can’t do it alone.  If you don’t know much about what an event will need, ask people that would know.   Information from other people/groups is invaluable and will help a team provide a new event that is open to even more people.

5) Taking the first step is hard but the rewards are worth it.  It is always an amazing accomplishment to open the door for an event for the first time and see the smiles on the faces of families and children.

Find out more about The Science Museum and accessibility at the Museum.  Follow on Twitter: @sciencemuseum @Claire86Hazell @scope

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

VisitWales, Welsh tourism embrace Disabled Access Day

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Welsh flag

Visit Wales was one of many tourism organizations around Wales to take part in international Disabled Access Day, a day set aside in January when people with disabilities are encouraged to visit places they have never been before. Disabled Access Day is an international and national campaign to highlight the accessible venues that provide for individuals with any form of disability.   VisitWales said that tourism is an industry that attracts and looks after the needs of all tourists. “ Our objective for the day, with the co-operation of our industry colleagues is to raise awareness of the wide variety of accessible attractions, activities and accommodation establishments that Wales has to offer”, said a VisitWales spokesperson.

In Carmarthenshire, The National Botanical Garden of Wales offered free entry and tours to people with disabilities.  In Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire, the Arts Centre also offered free entry, a BSL interpreter, and film screenings.   The Denbighshire County Council offered an obstacle free walk at Loggerheads Country Park and a chidren’s Treasure Hunt.

Tourism operators from across Pembrokeshire County  gathered at Clynfyw Care Farm in Abercych to celebrate ‘Inclusive West Wales’.     It was supported by a number of tourism operators and organisations who carry an accessible ethos, including the National Trust  Stackpole Mencap Gardens, The Harriet Davis Trust, Pembrokeshire People First, Celtic Quest Coasteering and Pembrokeshire Tourism.   Those who attended found it very beneficial by networking with peers and gaining a wealth of knowledge on what is available to the disabled visitor in Pembrokeshire.   Emily Yates, an accessibility consultant and travel writer who has been employed by the Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games also attended the event.   She was overwhelmed with the facilities available at Clynfyw Care Farm.   She said: “The thing that really impresses me about Clynfyw is that physical accessibility and community inclusion go hand-in-hand. Not only can visitors stay in a gorgeous cottage to suit all their needs they can also take part in arts and crafts and wheelchair yoga. This inclusion” she added, “is what really creates understanding and brings people together. We need more of it” she said.

Clynyfw has been providing accessible holidays to visitors for more than 30 years and has been recognised for its good practice by winning the Pembrokeshire Tourism Gold Award for Best Access for the Disabled Visitor in 2013.  The manager Jim Bowen said the event was a great success, and that it was a pleasure to see the development of collaborative working amongst some of the leading accessible business in Pembrokeshire.   “It’s hopefully the start of something big for accessible tourism in Pembrokeshire”, said Bowen.

Follow on Twitter: @Access_Day @VisitWalesBiz @EmilyRYates @ClynfywCIC  @nationaltrust @HDavisTrust @pemspeople1st @CQCoasteering @visitpembs  Main source: Disabled Access Day

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

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

NZ: Whangarei Council improves access information about festival events

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Endless Summer Festival booklet image from Facebook page

Endless Summer Festival booklets

Whangarei is a district north of Auckland, New Zealand.   Whangarei’s Endless Summer Festival offers 109 great events listed in the Endless Summer Festival booklet, out now and available from Forum North, Toll Stadium, the Hub and the Isite.    “Happening across the Whangarei District from January – Easter, and with some of the events being held on multiple days, this equates to 439 days of events in Whangarei over summer!,” said Venues and Events  Whangarei Marketing and Events Manager Rachel O’Gorman.  “Not only do we have more events, but this year a real effort has been made for as many events as possible to be accessible to everyone. Last year I attended a Whangarei District Council Disability Advisory Group meeting to find out how we can better assist the sector when it comes to events and providing information about them.  The group said providing accessibility information when an event was being publicised meant people could see what facilities would be available, rather than taking a chance, turning up and being disappointed. Knowing about accessibility in advance would be likely to encourage a greater range of people to select events they would really enjoy,” said O’Gorman.

“This year as part of the event registration process, event organisers were required to answer a few accessibility questions around whether their events have a designated viewing area, disabled car parks, wheelchair access, disabled toilets and sign language interpreters.  There is a key at the front of the booklet and every event has the symbols to show whether or not the event has the accessible facilities. The information is also highlighted in each event on Facebook, Eventfinda and on our website. One of the events in the Endless Summer Festival has a sign language interpreter and we will work with the Deaf community and event organisers to see this increase over time. We have already booked one for the Christmas Festival 2015.”

Events include the Highland Games, Ruakaka Races, The Bridge to Basin series, Water Slide mania at the town basin, Art beat, Blues v Chiefs, Beach to Basin, Kids Triathlon, the White Plate dinner, Snorkling and Kayaking days, The Fritter Festival, Opera in the Garden, lots of art exhibitions.   Easter events includ the Waipu Easter Carnival, The Whangarei Head Arts Trail, Steampunk Sunday, Uku North Exhibition and Festival of Fibre.

To find out about access at events, go to the Venues and Events Whangarei website and information is given on the page for each event.  Booklets with the same information are available in the district from Forum North, Toll Stadium, the Hub or the Isite.  Events can be followed on the Endless Summer Festival Facebook page  Source: Press release; Pers Comm.  Follow on Twitter: @WhangareiDC

UNWTO San Marino Declaration calls for universal accessibility in tourism

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Woman walking with a broken leg and crutches

Achieving universal accessibility throughout the tourism value chain is the main call for action of the San Marino Declaration of Accessible Tourism, adopted at the First UNWTO Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe (San Marino, 19-20 November 2014).  The conference addressed how to advance quality, sustainability and competitiveness in accessible tourism with a special focus on cultural heritage and the use of smart technologies. Increased accessibility in tourism benefits people with disabilities and special needs while entailing important economic opportunities for the sector.   “Accessible Tourism for All ranks high amongst the ethical challenges we have identified and which require our permanent attention and guidance”, said the Chairman of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics, Pascal Lamy, opening the Conference. ”Advocating for and advancing universal access in travel and tourism is both a question of rights and a question of ethics, a matter of quality and respect, of freedom and non-discrimination”, he added.

The San Marino Declaration on Accessible Tourism was adopted unanimously, and called for all stakeholders to ensure universal accessibility in all the components of the tourism value chain. This includes the physical environment, the transportation system and information and communications channels, as well as to strengthen and engage public-private partnerships and other forms of cooperation among entities working in the field of universal accessibility.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai stressed that “People with disabilities and special needs should be able to actively take part in tourism just as any other traveller. Great strides have been made to advance universal accessibility, particularly in Europe, but there are still many opportunities to be seized. Accessibility for all depends much on the will of all players to work together, and we at UNWTO remain committed to advancing this fundamental agenda and implementing the necessary changes alongside our partners.”

While referring to the morphological features of the hilly mediaeval town of San Marino, the Minister of Tourism, H.E. Mr. Teodoro Lonfernini, pointed out that “San Marino is doing its best to make its territory accessible to as many visitors as possible, while also trying to enable an authentic travel experience to people with special needs”, adding that “if a country like the Republic of San Marino can achieve that, many other States should be able to follow the same path”.

The Conference was jointly organized by UNWTO and the Government of the Republic of San Marino in collaboration with Village for All (V4A) and the ONCE Foundation of Spain.

Source: Press release.  Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @undesadspd @SanMarinoxTutti @Villageforall @Fundacion_ONCE @ RisiMarcelo

 

UN: People with Disabilities fastest growing minority in the world

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Senior couple out for  a stroll On December 3 – which is the United Nations International Day of People with Disabilities – New Zealanders with disabilities who are high achievers will be recognised at the Attitude Awards in Auckland.  According to the recently released NZ Disability Survey 2013, 24% of people living in New Zealand have one or more disabilities.  Because of the aging population, this percentage will increase over the coming years as the huge Baby Boomer cohort ages.  Globally, there are at least 1 billion people already with some form of disability, and the United Nations describing the disability community as “the fastest-growing minority in the world” (UN). In NZ, physical impairment is the most common type of disability, followed by sensory impairments such as hearing or vision loss. Mental illness affected 5% of our citizens, and intellectual disability 2%.  Last year’s inductee into Attitude’s hall of fame, accessibility advocate Alexia Pickering, said in her acceptance speech:  “Accessibility rules the lives of all people with disabilities. It determines where we go, what we do, who we can visit, what theatre we can go to. It just rules our life” (Stuff). The United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which has been observed since 1992, provides an opportunity to further raise awareness of disability and accessibility as an overarching development issue, promote understanding of disability issues, and mobilise support for the dignity, rights, and wellbeing of people with disabilities.  The theme of this year’s commemoration is: “Sustainable Development – The Promise of Technology.”

Follow on Twitter: @UN_Enable @attitude_tv @NZStuff  @kennyKatie

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

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

Tourism Assoc Ontario recognizes growing importance of accessible tourism

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20141114_C6682_PHOTO_EN_8046

The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) has announced that Easter Seals Canada is the winner of the Tourism Industry Award of Excellence for Accessible Tourism. This award is new to the program this year, and celebrates efforts made to make tourism businesses and destinations available to all Ontarians.  Easter Seals Canada is dedicated to fully enhancing the quality of life, self-esteem, and self-determination of Canadians with disabilities. Implementing inclusive and accessible services is the cornerstone of the programs offered by Easter Seals Canada, such as the Access 2 Entertainment and Disability Travel Card programs, which work with the transportation, entertainment and tourism sectors to implement accessible service action plans

TIAO is recognized as the umbrella organization for leading associations, destination marketing organizations and regional tourism organizations serving Ontario’s diverse tourism industry. Collectively representing 149,000 businesses and 305,000 employees dedicated to promoting and operating the province’s powerful tourism infrastructure, TIAO provides a strong, unified voice for the sector and advocates the importance of tourism to all levels of government in order to help the industry grow and prosper. The Tourism Industry Awards of Excellence recognize leaders in innovation, events, volunteering, sustainability and accessibility within Ontario’s vibrant tourism industry.

Beth Potter, President & CEO, TIAO said of the award “Accessible tourism has become a major trend in both Ontario and Canada. One in seven Ontarians has a disability, and that number is expected to rise over the next 20 years. Easter Seals Canada is ahead of the curve in creating services for this market, and TIAO is thrilled to present them with our newest award.”

SOURCE Tourism Industry Association of Ontario https://www.tiaontario.ca/.  Follow on Twitter: @TiaoTweets @EasterSeals 

ICT and coastal tourism for all: European conference

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Cote d Azur veiw of the coast

Euro-Mediterranean m-Tourism institutions and professionals recently shared their ideas and suggestions on ICT and Coastal Tourism for All with 80 professionals attending the 4th Telecom Valley m-Tourism Day in Nice, France (http://www.investincotedazur.com/en/info/news/ict-and-coastal-tourism-for-all-in-the-euro-mediterranean/).  The session was part of the Digital Economy Fortnight in PACA. Coastal tourism was discussed in terms of  access for all, including people with disabilities, families, seniors, and others who need better access. Presenting bodies included institutions (Riviera Cote d’Azur CRT, Nice Cote d’Azur CCI, NECstour) and digital companies which are developing solutions related tosuch visitors.  Included were the WACAN Agency in Sophia Antipolis, which has developed a smartphone application for walksfor those with visual and hearing loss. The AISM (Italian Association for multiple sclerosis), BALEARES TURISMO, CARPEVITAM NGO, DEFISMED, FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA TURISMO, GEOLIVES) also presented projects.  .

Jean-Bernard Titz, President of Telecom Valley and leader of the m-Tourism commission, announced the release of the commission’s latest white paper (www.m-tourism-day.eu) focusing on “Tourism, ICT and Disability”, which is the result of consultation involving many beneficiaries and experts in tourism, ICT, law,  and the Silver Economy (senior citizens economy).

Follow on Twitter: @TelecomValley @jbdevhelp @CotedAzur4Biz

VisitEngland funded by EC to promote Accessible Tourism

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Changing of the Guard Buck Palace and Wellington Barracks (27)

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

Accessible Flanders

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One hundred years after the start of the First World War, Flanders Fields has prepared for the expected influx of visitors during the centenary by being – as one of the Visit Flanders tourist board brochures puts it – “Accessible to Everyone”.  So write John Oates and Rob Crossan in The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/travel/great-war-flanders/10980195/accessible-travel-flanders-fields.html).    

In Ypres, the Gothic-style Cloth Hall on the town square is now home to the In Flanders Fields museum, which was recently renovated and has level floors and lifts for wheelchair access. Overall the museum provides an informative and accessible introduction to wartime history and sites. There are a number of companies in Ypres offering car and minibus tours.  It is important to book ahead and talk to the companies about any access needs.

Inevitably some places are more accessible than others. Take the famous Menin Gate in Ypres, an arch which bears the names of almost 55,000 missing Commonwealth  soldiers. The steps on two sides of the gate would be impossible by wheelchair, which means that you couldn’t get close to some of the inscribed panels or the places where wreaths of poppies are left.  On the other hand, the main area beneath the arch is flat and that’s where the poignant Last Post is sounded at 8pm every day in honour of the fallen. The space gets very crowded with tourists, so it’s a good idea to arrive by around 7.15pm, but there’s space in the middle where people with disabilities can get a spot away from the throng.

While there’s no substitute for making personal enquiries, the authors found the “Accessible to Everyone” brochure both detailed and accurate. Perhaps most importantly it doesn’t gloss over potential problems. At Tyne Cot, for example, it mentions an accessible entrance but also warns that “there is an adapted toilet, but it is difficult to reach because of the path’s pebble stones”.

The tour is exceptionally accessible and effective to blind and visually impaired visitors.  Visit Flanders has a huge roster of walking guides, all of whom were excellently prepared for dealing with a who needed extra assistance with stairs, roads and with reading some of the hugely informed visual elements to museums such as the In Flanders Fields museum in the centre of Ypres.  This is one of the best examples in Europe of a museum which has embraced the interactive approach to commemorating history without the usual concomitant dumbing-down.

The audio recordings (made by actors) of real diary entries written by soldiers, nurses and doctors, detailing the horror of life on the front line with a notable lack of sentiment or emotion are particularly good.  Visiting the battlefields themselves is no less affecting. The Memorial Museum in Passchendaele (actually in the nearby village of Zonnebeke) has a re-creation of a trench.  With detailed descriptions by a guide, people with visual disability can feel their way around the contorting narrow alleyway.  It’s impossible not to be affected by the feeling of suffocation that immediately manifests the moment you step inside the warren of bunkers where thousands of men would spend months enduring the near-constant ear-splitting sound of exploding shells.

It’s clear that, by providing accurate information – alongside training staff and working with sites to upgrade facilities – Visit Flanders is taking access seriously. Indeed, Visit Flanders recently won the ‘Amadeus and World Travel Market (WTM) Travel Experience Award’ for its provision in Accessible Tourism. Download Flanders Fields – Accessible to Everyone at www.accessinfo.be. It includes listings of hotels and restaurants with accessible facilities.

Sources: John Oates, Rob Crossan, The Telegraph; Visit Flanders; Access Tourism NZ.  Follow on Twitter: @VisitFlanders @valiesje @john_oates @crossantravels