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