Guest post: New Zealand missing out by failing to accommodate travellers with mobility challenges.

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Reflections on a recent holiday in Alaska and Canada.  Guest post by Roger Loveless.  Roger is a New Zealander who uses an electric wheelchair and recently spent a month travelling with it overseas. He has muscular dystrophy and lives in Hamilton.  He retired from the electric power industry in 2008 and now works part time as an access coordinator for CCS Disability Action (http://www.ccsdisabilityaction.org.nz/). He has always enjoyed travel and experiencing different cultures with his wife Mary.  Next year they will be visiting their son’s family, including two grandchildren, in Britain which will include a weeks “glamping” in a Mongolian Yurt in Dorset.  Picture: Roger and his wife Mary

Taku Helicopter

 

 I have just returned from my first overseas holiday with my electric wheelchair. My wife Mary and I went to the USA and Canada using planes, ships, a helicopter, cable car, taxi cabs, trains, buses and coaches. We did a 14 day Alaskan cruise out of Seattle, the Rocky Mountaineer train from Calgary to Vancouver and some other sightseeing.  At some cruise ship ports of call I couldn’t get off the ship, and at Sitka I had to use a hired manual wheelchair to be able to use the tenders. Some places required advance warning of my needs but what really was far better than New Zealand was the availability of tour buses with hoists for wheelchairs at the back, where they could push a few rows of seats together to make space. We used these in Ketchikan, Juneau, Anchorage, and Vancouver (for a journey to Victoria including a ferry trip).  Then there was the real highlight, with a helicopter ride to the Taku Glacier. I boarded the helicopter using a special lifting seat. 

Really an eye opener as to what can be done if there is a will, supported by at least some legislation. It makes you wonder how much New Zealand is missing out on by failing to accommodate the traveller with mobility challenges. 

I also holiday most years in Paihia (NZ) and note that in 2013/14, 44 cruise liners called in, carrying 73,366 passengers and 32,695 crew. How many of those passengers had mobility issues and didn’t bother to come ashore? As passengers tend to be older people, perhaps 5% (close to 4000 people) had mobility issues and if their companions also stayed on the ship, that would be quite significant. Perhaps these figures are wrong because persons with disabilities merely avoid New Zealand entirely in favour of places where access is treated seriously and they are welcomed.  Wouldn’t it be great if we had shore experiences and tour buses that were accessible? We could even make the effort, advertise the fact and, if we get it right, see positive comments on social media.  Apart from tour buses, Paihia has ferries, boat trips, helicopter rides and even a train from Kawakawa. 

Follow on Twitter: @ccsdisabilitya

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UN DSP forum on Accessible Tourism and Sustainable Development

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20100513_4

The Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) plans to organize a Forum for Accessible Tourism and Sustainable Development for All at The Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo on November 18, 2014.  The aim is to promote accessible tourism as an effective means for poverty eradication, employment generation and social inclusion of persons with accessibility needs.

DSPD is calling for nominations of initiatives (policies, projects and innovative solutions) that have proved successful in the promotion of the accessible tourism and sustainable development. Interested Governmental authorities, UN agencies, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations and private sector partners are encouraged to send nominations by filling an online nomination form at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/accessible-Tourism along with relevant supporting materials to ngo[@]un.org by August 30, 2014. Due to the high volume of nominations, please be as concise as possible. More detailed information may be requested by DSPD after the first-round contact.

The GSSD Expo is a United Nations system-wide global event for south-south and triangular cooperation. The Expo, launched in 2008, has become an annual event co-sponsored by and with more than 25 UN organizations, over 100 UN Member States and a large number of private sectors and civil society organizations.  Designed to showcase and scale up the impact of successful and evidence-based solutions developed and/or practiced by developing countries in addressing development issues, the Expo aims to help the global South realize its shared aspirations for achieving sustainable and equitable development through the sharing and transfer of the south-grown development solutions under innovative triangular and public-private partnership (PPP) arrangements.  The GSSD Expo 2014 will be hosted by the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington D.C. United States, November 17-21.  The Expo is going to focus on sustainable development this year.

Source: http://unsdn.org/call-for-nomination-of-initiatives-that-successfully-promoted-accessible-tourism/#sthash.LrAoxoUP.dpuf  Follow on Twitter: @undesadspd @OAS_official

Biggest tourism and travel spenders are the Baby Boomers

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Tourism Review (http://www.tourism-review.com/) recently carried out a survey of travel agencies and professionals in the tourism industry to get their opinions on changing trends with travel, consumer expectations, and booking.  They came up with seven important trends and their likely effects.  One of these was the fact that it is Baby Boomers – those in their late forties to mid sixties – who are the biggest spenders.  TR notes that for any tourism business, be they hotel, travel agency, or airline, it is crucial to keep up with trends in spending and technology in order to stay ahead of the competition and retain their evolving consumer base.  Businesses within the sector need to keep an eye on where their revenue is coming from.  Spending habits tend to be separated into generations and while agencies focus on attracting the youth market, they only account for 9% of travel expenditure in the last year.  It is the Baby Boomers spending the most, bringing in 60% of the revenue.

Follow on Twitter: @Tourism_Review

United Nations to participate in first World Summit “DESTINATIONS FOR ALL”

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Logo Destinations for All

Ms. Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), will inaugurate the first World Summit Destinations for All, to be held in Montreal October 19-22, 2014. Bas was appointed Director of UNDESA’s DSPD in May 2011.  She is a specialist in international politics, human rights, and social development.  The summit aims to identify and implement the necessary measures to establish international tourism that is inclusive and accessible to everyone.  More specifically, the event is expected to:

1) Make progress in determination of a set of international norms and standards with regards to accessible tourism and transportation

2) Highlight the economic benefits for destinations to be completely inclusive and accessible, and to develop and enhance accessible tourism products

3) Establish a world partnership and a common international strategy to develop universal accessibility for infrastructures, tourism services, transport, and to increase the availability of information on the accessibility of different destinations

The main driver of the conference is Keroul, a key consultant for Tourisme Québec regarding accessibility.  Many prestigious international organizations support the Summit, including the World Tourism Organization, the International Organization of Social Tourism, the World Centre of Excellence for Destinations, the European Network for Accessible Tourism, the ONCE Foundation in Spain, and Association Tourisme et Handicaps France.  Members of the steering committee and programme committee come from around the world, including Australasia (Access Tourism New Zealand being one), Asia, Northe America, Europe and the UK, and the Middle East.  The co-chairs of the summit are André Vallerand of Keroul and Ivor Ambrose of ENAT.

New Universal Design Guide for Inclusive Tourism

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Front cover of Universal Design Guide for Inclusive Tourism showing a range of people needing better access

A new guide to designing for Inclusive Tourism has been produced by Scott Rains and Sarah Pruett. The “Universal design guide for inclusive tourism” opens with a description of Inclusive Tourism (with a discussion why the authors reject the term “Accessible Tourism”), and Universal Design (UD), and discusses why  UD in Inclusive Tourism  makes social and economic sense.  UD is a way of thinking about design to eliminate barriers and make things easier to use for the entire population.  The guide goes on to discuss basic considerations in access, then considers in more detail access to transportation and parking, pathways and roads, ramps and steps, entrances and doors, interior access (including multi-story access), access in restrooms, guest rooms, and bathrooms, access in food service and retail, and accessible lighting .  It also discusses access in leisure venues and locations, and access to beach and sea, and concludes with a section on education and training and communication to the public.

Follow on Twitter: @UDPartners @SRains

UNWTO, San Marino to hold first European Conference on Accessible Tourism

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San Marino scenic

Policies and measures to promote universal accessibility in tourism will be at the centre of the first UNWTO European Conference on Accessible Tourism, jointly organized by UNWTO and the Government of the Republic of San Marino (RSM) on the 19th of November, 2014.  Accessible Tourism for All ensures that people with disabilities have access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, transportation, information and communications, and facilities open to the public or for public use.  The conference is being organized in recognition of the importance of accessibility in tourism, and will look at how to maintain and develop quality, sustainability and competitiveness in accessible tourism.  The agreement to hold the conference was signed at ITB Berlin by UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai and Teodoro Lonfernini, Minister of Tourism and Relations with Public Utilities State Corporation of San Marino.  “Accessible tourism benefits everyone and advancing the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities should be seen as an opportunity as well as an obligation; UNWTO and the Republic of San Marino are both deeply committed to taking concrete action in this area”, said Rifai.  “Accessibility has become a fundamental issue in tourism. Many countries are devoting special attention to this topic and are adjusting their tourism systems and legislations. After being recognised as 2013 European Destination of Excellence (EDEN), San Marino is being offered by UNWTO the opportunity to focus on accessibility through the organisation of a European Conference in the Republic, which fills us with pride. This is a major challenge for the future that we all must meet”, said Lonfernini.

According to the World Health Organization 15% of the world population has a physical, mental or sensory disability. In its efforts to mainstream universal accessibility within the tourism sector, UNWTO works closely with disabled people’s organizations (DPOs). In 2013, the General Assembly adopted the Recommendations on Accessible Tourism for All which incorporate the most relevant aspects of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and Universal Design.

Additional highlights include the publication of Manuals on Accessible Tourism, one of which has been already released in partnership with the Spanish ACS Foundation. The manual co-produced with the ONCE Foundation is expected to be issued soon.

The 1st UNWTO European Conference on Accessible Tourism will be held alongside the 14th meeting of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics (WCTE), which recently declared accessible tourism for all one of its top priorities.

Source: UNWTO press release.  Follow on Twitter: @UNWTO @RisiMarcelo @Fundacion_ONCE @SanMarinoxTutti

Tourism Business magazine NZ says Accessible Tourism increasingly important

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Senior tourist at Tekapo church New Zealand

Tourism Business magazine is New Zealand’s premier magazine for the tourism industry.  Edited by Annie Gray, it brings important news and tips to the industry every second month.  In the latest issue (Dec-Jan 13/14), a “Something to Ponder” article points out that Accessible Tourism is going to be increasingly important to the NZ tourism industry, and that businesses need to cater to the older demographic.  The proof, says the article, can be found in the results from the 2013 NZ Census.  In a snapshot about the age of NZ’s population, one of the most startling aspects is that people aged 50-69 make up more than 23% of the population and number nearly one million (up by 21.5% since the last 2006 census).  The article goes on to say that those aged 65-69 show the biggest increase (32%0, followed by those 60-64 years old (almost 30% increase).

Why does this mean the NZ tourism, travel, and hospitality industry should improve access?  Because disability increases with age.  Not only that, but it is older generations who have the time and money to spend on tourism.  And, more than 40% of NZ’s international visitors are in the older (50+) age groups, with the fastest growth rate for international visitors occuring in the 60-69 year-old demographic.  According to NZ MED, this trend will continue.

Follow on Twitter: @tourismbusiness @MBIEgovtnz

Accessible Tourism again on the agenda at ITB Berlin

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German National Tourism Board logo from their website

The German National Tourist Board (GNTB) has its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  It is funded by and works on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) to represent Germany as a tourist destination.   The GNTB will this March host the third annual “Day of Accessible Tourism” at ITB Berlin travel and tourism fair, aiming to raise awareness of the topic of accessible tourism and the economic opportunities it presents.

The GNTB is supported by its partners , the National and State Offices of Tourism for All (NatKo) and Barrier-free Destinations in Germany. This year, the event focuses on the challenges of demographic change and what the development of accessible tourism offers. Speakers from national tourism organizations, as well as service providers and groups supporting accessible tourism will present information, best practice examples and current trends in their areas. There will also be several panel discussions for interested parties to attend and engage in.

“Together with our partners we have set ourselves the goal to develop and market reliable and quality-tested products along the entire travel and service chain. The objective of the GNTB is to communicate the various travel options we offer internationally, and to anchor accessibility as an important facet of the essence of Destination Germany as a brand,” explains Petra Hedorfer, CEO of the GNTB.

In Europe alone there are about 50 million people with mobility and activity limitations and almost 90 million people who are older than 65. Therefore it is important to ensure that the specific requirements of this market are linked to long-term and cooperative actions by stakeholders in business, government, research and disability organisations. This is a worthwhile investment because accessibility should not only be an issue for travellers with mobility and activity limitations – but for everyone – including tourists and residents. Thus, the level of accessibility for all should be a benchmark of quality for tourist services and be a competitive factor for destinations.

The event takes place on Friday the 7th of March 2014 between 10.30am and 4.00pm in the “New York Saal” (Hall 7.1a ) in the morning and in the ” Berlin Hall” (Hall 7.3 ) at the Exhibition Grounds in Berlin in the afternoon.

Main Source: Press release.  Follow on Twitter: @GermanyTourism @gntb2014 @BMWi_Bund @ITB_Berlin

Scott Rains: People with disabilities are THE market, not a niche

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Scott Rains with a lion from Vimeo website

International travel and inclusion design consultant and author of the Rolling Rains Report, Scott Rains discusses accessible (or inclusive) tourism in New Mobility magazine.  Rains says that it is time for people with disabilities (PwDs) to “stop insisting we’re a market niche”.  This is because PwDs “cross-cut all niches and all demographics.”   Rains goes on to say that PwDs cover all economic brackets and travel for the same reasons as everyone else.  “We date, we marry, we have families” says Rains.  The article goes on to describe results from a survey carried out by New Mobility.  The survey found that about 44% of PwDs travel for family vacations, 32% for couple getaways, and 19% for work-related trips.  That’s a “lot of family members, lovers, and co-workers all benefiting from access technically needed by only one person”, says the article.  The survey also found that about 34% of PwDs aim to book rooms in the US$50-$100 range, 45% in the $100-$150 range, and 11% in the $150-$200 range.

Follow on Twitter: @srains @NewMobilityMag

VisitEngland and others write about the importance of the ageing market

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Picture of beach cabins on the front of the Visit England report

In a new publication on “Domestic Leisure Tourism Trends for the next Decade”, VisitEngland (England’s National Tourism Board) identifies 5 trends influencing domestic tourism in the next ten years.  The first on the list is demography, with a concurrent trend in the need for accessibility.  The report states that:

Changes in the population and demographic make-up of England over the next decade will have a transformative effect on society – and significant implications for consumers’ leisure choices. Common to many of the trends in this section is the changing shape of the family – something evident in the rising number of older people and grandparents’ increasing involvement in childcare, and also in the diverse structures and types of family. Overall, the population of England will grow, but this growth will not be spread evenly across age groups. There will be a very well understood trend is the growth in the number of older people and rise in the average age of the country – referred to as the ageing society. Not every section of society is growing; there will actually be a decline in the number of people aged 35-49 over the next few years, leading to a ‘squeezed middle’ generation. The medium term future will also see a rise in the number of younger people, as a result of a sustained rise in fertility rates since the mid 1990s – a baby boom.

The report goes on to say that the implications of these shifts on domestic leisure tourism will be profound. The rising number of older people not only signals a change in the needs of this particular group – there is an implication, for example, for all types of business to meet accessibility needs – but also a shift in their attitudes. The next retired generation will be heavily comprised of the baby boomer cohort, who differ greatly from previous older generations in their attitudes to leisure – they are generally more affluent and far more leisure focussed than previous generations of older people.  Businesses and destinations in the tourism market will need to adapt to cater for an increasing number of intergenerational family holidays.  The ageing population will intensify – in three decades time, there will be more than 9 million over 75s in England (twice as many as there are currently) making the importance of catering for both older and intergenerational groups a crucial implication for decades to come. The appetite for travel and tourism amongst the oldest groups in society is likely to increase over time (‘healthy life expectancy’ is increasing, as well as overall life expectancy), but
accommodation and travel options that can cater for people with reduced mobility will be in great demand.

Of course, an ageing society is not going to just affect English domestic tourism.  Access Tourism New Zealand has for a long time been publishing blogs about the need for the New Zealand tourism and travel sector to sit up and take notice of demographic trends.  New Zealand is getting older.  According to the 2013 NZ Census, the median age (half are younger, and half older, than this age) of the population continued to increase, reaching 38.0 years in 2013 compared with 35.9 years in 2006.  The number of people aged 50–69 years rose to 989,364, an increase of 21.5% since 2006. People in this age range made up 23.3% of the population in 2013, compared with 20.2% in 2006. The number of people aged 65 years and over continued to increase. In 2013, there were 607,032 people in this age group, making up 14.3% of the population. This was an increase from 12.3% of the population in 2006 and 12.1% in 2001.  Over 73,000 people were aged 85 years or over at the time of the 2013 Census. There was a 29.4% increase in this age group since 2006.

In the USA, Mark Bradbury (senior director, Insights and Integrated Marketing, AARP Media Sales) explain why 50+ travellers will rule the airways, railways and hotel hallways into 2014 and beyond.  According to Bradbury, the 50+ traveller is the lifeblood of the travel industry.  They are responsible for 48% of all vacation expenditures, up from 42% just five years ago—a trend that will continue as 50+ population growth outpaces that of 18-49 by a 3:1 margin over the next decade, according to the U.S. Census. People 50+ consider travel more of a necessity than a luxury, as evidenced by a post-recession increase of 25% in their travel spending. Since 2007, 50+ vacation spending is up nearly $20 million, compared to a $1.7 billion drop among 18-49. 50+ travellers spend 23% more on domestic vacations and 22% more on foreign vacations than younger travellers, and spend more high-end. With more time and money at their disposal, older Boomers eager for new experiences are growing the 60+ segment of the travel market. Since Boomers started turning 60 just seven years ago, the 60+ travel market has grown by 24%, or 3.6 million travellers.  Younger Boomers value gratification that can be realized today.  Boomers are at the core of several travel trends, including: ecotourism, adventure travel, medical tourism, multigenerational travel, passion/hobby vacations (that is, combining a vacation with a passion, such as biking, language learning, food, wine, etc.), and spiritual travel. They are also increasingly switched on to digital media.  In summary, no one travels more than Boomers, and no age group is wealthier.

Worldwide, older people are also increasingly switched on to digital media.  In New Zealand 77% of those aged 55-64 are connected to the internet, 61% of those aged 65-74, and 32% of those 75+.

In other areas, SilverGroup reports that those 50+ comprise 35% of all travel and 80% of all cruises in the EC,  Japanese 50+ will comprise 80% of the total tourism dollar across key Asian Markets by 2015, and Chinese 50+ will comprise 39% of total overseas travel and 66% of spending this year (2014 – MasterCard Asia Pacific and ING).   By 2015, those 65+ will spend US$129bn on travel and leisure (SilverGroup).

For tips on travelling as a senior, visit Tourism Review.

@VisitEnglandBiz @VisitEngland @Tourism_Review @SilverGroup @StatisticsNZ

EC: Barrier-free travel: a win-win for society and EU tourism

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Wheelchair sign at a beac from the EC website

The European Commission Enterprise and Industry magazine reports that barrier-free travel is a win-win for society and EU tourism.  Making tourism more accessible is essential to the development of new markets and services that will help Europe’s tourism industry thrive. By making basic adjustments to facilities and information services, senior citizens and travellers with special access needs will promote equal opportunities, social inclusion, and boost the tourism industry.

Senior citizens and people with special needs have the desire and the right to travel like everyone else. However, their travel experiences are often restricted by physical barriers such as transportation constraints, inaccessible accommodation and tourism sites and a general lack of information.  Senior citizens are an essential element to the European tourism industry. Currently, more than 128 million Europeans are between 55 and 80 years old, and according to current demographic trends, this proportion is expected to increase. However, the potential for senior travel has not yet been fully exploited: Only 41 % of seniors between 55 and 75 currently travel.  Tourism authorities, as well as industry and senior organisations, are being encouraged to engage in a stronger public-private partnership. In this context, the Commission is preparing to launch an initiative, ‘Europe, the best destination for seniors’, which is designed to increase the flow of senior tourists, particularly during the low and medium seasons, between countries both inside and outside the EU.

According to the World Health Organization/World Bank, an estimated one billion people in the world live with disabilities. Together with their families, that means approximately a third of the world’s population is directly or indirectly affected by disability.  Many people have access needs, whether or not related to a physical condition (e.g. wheelchair users, visual, hearing impairment, allergies). For example, older and less mobile people or people with pushchairs have access needs, which can become a huge obstacle when going on holiday.  For those people, travelling can be a real challenge, as finding the information on accessible services, checking luggage on a plane, booking a room with special access needs often prove to be difficult, costly and time consuming.

In order to promote accessible tourism, the Commission this year (2013), dedicated European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) awards 2013 to locations that excel in accessible tourism.  Destinations in 19 countries were recognised for their efforts in developing accessible tourism offers.  In addition, barriers that restrict travel within or to Europe are being lifted. The EU boasts a comprehensive set of passenger rights which apply regardless of the transport used.

Follow on Twitter: @EU_enterprise

2013 European Commision Destinations of Excellence awards recognise 19 Accessible Tourism sites

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Map of countries in Europe which enter the EDEN prize

The 2013 European Destinations of Excellence awards (EDEN awards) recognise 19 Accessible Tourism sites that best represent Accessible tourism that promotes access for persons with special needs and the elderly. The EDEN awards are an annual initiative by the European Commission to promote emerging destinations and sustainable tourism.  Based on national competitions, each competing country presented  a destination that allows tourist locations to be accessed in a ‘functionally independent, righteous and dignifying manner’, writes Desmond Hinton-Beales in the Parliament magazine.  Xavier Lechien, president of the EDEN network association, said that, the awards are about more than simply showing where “travellers can hike freely, enjoy new experiences and get the service according to their needs”- they are also about sending a message to policymakers.  “Destination managers and policymakers will read an important message between the lines: accessible tourism must become a priority, not only for the good of the tourists, but also for the long-term business sustainability of the industry.”

Deputy director general of enterprise and industry Antti Peltomäki called for action.  “One of the tourism sectors in Europe that still remains largely untapped is accessible tourism for senior citizens and people with special needs.   The European Commission takes this very seriously,as equal opportunities and human rights must be a reality for all European citizens”, said Peltomäki.   “Our sincere hope is that this year’s EDEN awards will give accessible tourism more visibility and that destinations all around Europe will start following their example,”  continued  Peltomäki.

The EDEN award winners for 2013 are:  Austria – Tiroler Oberland – Kaunertal, Belgium – Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, Croatia – Stancija 1904 – Svetvincenat, Cyprus – Polis Chrysochous municipality,
Czech Rep. – Lipno, Estonia – Haapsaly city, France – Morvan regional nature park, Greece – Municipality of Marathon, Hungary – Kaposvár and the Zselic area, Ireland – Cavan town and environs, Italy – Pistoia and province, Latvia – Liepaja, Lithuania – Telsiai, Netherlands – Horsterwold, Poland – Przemysl, Romania – Jurilovca, Slovenia – Lasko, Spain – Natural park of Guara’s mountains and canyons, Turkey – Tarakli district

Accessible Tourism again on the agenda at World Travel Market

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Headline from World Travel Market brochure showing logo

 The World Travel Market Responsible Tourism 2013 Programme (Twitter: @WTM_London) this year focuses on the themes of water, climate change, child protection, volunteering, and Accessible Tourism.  It will run from 5-7 November in London and is a FREE event.  The topics are all topics that “should matter to any company or individual who cares for their future.”  Discussions will include why these topics are important, and what is being – and can be – done.  On Wednesday the 6th November, the Accessible Tourism topic is “Good for Business: Taking Responsibility for People with Disabilities”.  The session will be chaired by Ross Calaldine, head of Business Support, VisitEngland (@VistEngland).   Speakers include Arnold Fewell, AVF Marketing (@avfmarketing); Tim Gardiner, MBE, Chair Tourism for All UK (@tourismforalluk) and the UK Department  for Culture, Media, and Sport  Accessible Tourism Stakeholders Forum (@DCMS); Olaf Schlieper (@olafschlieper), Innovations Manager at the German National Tourist Board (@gntb2013); Brian Seaman (@BrianMSeaman), Access New Business; Chris Veitch (@ChrisGVeitch), European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT @EUaccesstourism); and Marina Diotallevi, Programme Manager – Ethics & Social Dimensions of Tourism World Tourism Organization (UNWTO @UNWTO).  The panellists will talk about what can be done to take responsibility both for welcoming and providing additional opportunities for people with disabilities.

The event follows an Accessible Tourism roundtable at the WTM Travel and Technology Show

Accessible Tourism round table at World Travel Market

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Wheelchair being pushed in a Spanish street

The World Travel Market (WTM) is a 35-year-old leading global business-to-business event with presentations and exhibitions for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.  It is attended by almost 48,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press in London every November. WTM 2012 generated £1,860 million of travel industry contracts. WTM also runs a number of other business-to-business events covering all elements of travel and tourism.  At this year’s Travel and Technology Show, a round table was held on Accessible Travel and Responsible Travel.  The event featured an in-depth and informed discussion as eight experts from both business arenas gathered to discuss the markets.

Ataxia South Wales Chairman Alan Thomas said the UK’s estimated 10.6 million disabled people have a combined annual spend on goods and services of up to £80 billion, adding: “It is a big market out there. What’s the travel industry doing about it? In a word, nothing.”  According to a UK Government report (2012 Legacy for Disabled People, Inclusive and Accessible Business Travel), businesses failing to take into account this market are missing out on up to £80 billion of potential spend. Thomas said the problems start as soon as he tries to book a holiday as many people in the industry see his wheelchair rather than the human being using it, leaving agents too embarrassed to deal with. Enable Holidays Managing Director Lynne Kirby said such problems are endemic in a trade which has failed to educate staff how best to handle disabled people. She said: “Disabled customers have gone in to a shop and everybody disappears and I have to say hand on heart it is still happening” But Kirby believes the solution is simple, adding: “It is about getting the right information but the travel industry doesn’t know the questions to ask” Amadeus Director of Marketing Rob Sinclair-Barnes added if the market is to be adequately served, it must be all encompassing: “Accessible travel is the only type of travel that has implications from the moment of departure from home to the moment of return.” However, Virgin Atlantic Passenger Disability Adviser Geraldine Lundy said the trade would need to go even further to meet the market’s needs, adding: “It is even before they (disabled travelers) leave home. It is when they’re thinking about the holiday and booking it. It is about getting the information about where they want to go.” Lundy said the information needs to be accurate to allow disabled people to make informed decisions. She added it must also take in to account that some disabled people are blind or have learning difficulties and will need the information presented in a different way. Sinclair-Barnes added as the Baby Boomers enter old age and face increasing health problems, the industry must take action. “It (accessible travel) is a growing market. I’ve found it quite astonishing how little (product) there is.”

Source: WTM

Ataxia South Wales @AlanROYGBIV Enable Holidays @enableholidays Amadeus Director of Marketing Rob Sinclair-Barnes @AmadeusITGroup Virgin Atlantic @VirginAtlantic

US Businesses support signing CRPD

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Globe of the world public domain image from Colourbox

Business groups in the US have spoken out in favour of ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  These include the Chamber of Commerce, US Business Leadership Network, Assistive technology Industry Association of America, Information technology Industry Council, and many individual US businesses large and small.  They support signing because it will promote global commerce and US business leadership in international markets, amongst other reasons.  In regards to accessible tourism, signing CRPD they believe will increase access to international travel and tourism and advance international community living.  More at   http://image.slidesharecdn.com/crpdbusinesscase-131007175910-phpapp01/95/slide-1-638.jpg?1381187083  (G3ict, The American Association of People with Disabilities – AAPD,  U.S. International Council on Disabilities – USICD;  Assistive Technology Industry Association – AtiA )

EARTH European conference on Accessible Tourism in December

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

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

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

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

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

Accessible Tourism one of WTM’s 2013 Main Themes

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World Travel Market logo from their website

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

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

Greek Ministry of Tourism strategizes to attract more senior visitors

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Parthenon Greece

The Greek Ministry of Culture and Tourism is planning to launch a strategy to attract more senior tourists to the country, reports GTP.   A study conducted by the Research Institute for Tourism (ITEP) found that senior tourism could develop into an essential factor for the lengthening of the tourism season in Greece, because most seniors are not constrained by having to return home to employment. The study showed that by 2030, senior tourists will constitute 24 percent of the international tourism market.  Greek tourism minister Olga Kefalogianni said a targeted communication campaign would be planned to attract senior tourists to Greece.  “The increase of senior tourism (in Greece) is a strategic objective,” she said.  ITEP’s research showed that tourists over the age of 55 are less interested in taking a vacation for swimming and sunbathing; cultural tourism was more popular for seniors, especially for holiday-goers from Austria (26 percent), The Netherlands (22 percent), Belgium (22 percent) and Germany (21 percent).

As part of the campaign, Greek tourism enterprises will promote their services at the upcoming Swedish tourism fair Senior,  the biggest fair in the country for an active older audience.   Senior will take place 15-17 October 2013 at the Stockholmsmassan exhibition center. In its 19th year, last year’s fair attracted 139 exhibitors and some 10,200 visitors.

European Commission seeks proposals to design, implement, promote, and market accessible tourism itineraries

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EU Enterprise and Industry Twitter logo

In 2011, the European Parliament adopted the “Fidanza” Report” which argued for sustainable high quality accessible tourism as one of the challenges that must be achieved to strengthen the European tourism industry.  It was estimated that the in Europe alone, the potential accessible travel market was about 268 million people with a potential tourism revenue of 166 B Euros.   To foster the accessible tourism objective, the European Parliament included in its budget for 2012 and 2013 a Preparatory Action “Tourism Accessibility for All” aimed at laying down the foundations for future initiatives in the area of tourism and accessibility.  As part of this foundation, the EC has made a Call for Proposals  in accessible tourism itineraries.  The specific objectives of this call are:

  • To foster adaptation of tourism products and services to the needs of people with special access needs
  • To promote equal opportunity and social inclusion of people with special access needs
  • To improve skills and training with relation to accessibility in the tourism supply chain
  • To help mainstreaming accessibility in all segments of the tourism supply chain, while at the same time creating a seamless chain of accessibility in tourism
  • To promote, market and disseminate best practices in accessible tourism
  • To provide adequate support and guidance to SMEs
  • To enhance the quality and diversify the offer of accessible tourism experiences in Europe

The proposals should aim at achieving the following expected results:

  • New partnerships and better cooperation amongst local authorities/relevant tourism authorities and agencies, tourism operators, in particular SMEs, training providers and disability stakeholders
  • A stronger focus on accessibility in local tourism development agendas and strategies
  • Creation of a “critical mass” of accessible destinations, attractions, sites and tourism-related services, as mainstream products providing quality and value-for-money
  • Better trained staff, better skills, higher satisfaction levels form travellers and a more positive image of the destinations concerned, thus boosting the overall image of Europe as a tourism destination
  • Attracting more tourists, and maintaining viable tourism flows in the low-season.
  • Positive returns for businesses, especially SMEs and micro-SMEs

The maximum EU Contribution per project is € 125.000.  Deadline: 22/10/2013

UN WTO approves accessible tourism recommendations

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UNWTO logo

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recommendations on “Accessible Tourism for All” (2013) have been approved and endorsed by the General Assembly. Updated from the 2005 version, the recommendations outline a form of tourism that involves a collaborative process among stakeholders to enable people with access requirements to function independently through universally designed tourism products, services and environments. These recommendations were developed within the framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) of 2007.

Accessible Tourism for All defines the appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, transportation, information and communications and facilities open to the public or for public use.  “Accessibility is a central element of any responsible and sustainable tourism policy. It is both a human rights imperative and an exceptional business opportunity,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “Above all, we must come to appreciate that accessible tourism does not only benefit persons with disabilities or special needs, it benefits us all,” he added.

Along this line, a manual on “Accessible Tourism for All” is set to be published in late 2013, designed to guide tourism stakeholders to improve the accessibility for tourism destinations, facilities and services worldwide. The development of the Manual is a joint effort between UNWTO, the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) and two Spanish institutions, the ACS Foundation and the ONCE Foundation.

According to the World Health Organization World Report on Disability (2011), there are approximately 1 billion persons with disabilities in the world, or 15% of the world population having a physical, mental or sensory disability. UNWTO´s “Declaration on the Facilitation of Tourist Travel (2009) underlines travel and tourism facilitation for persons with disabilities as an essential element of any policy for the development of responsible tourism.

Source: UNWTO