The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is calling on destinations to recognise the needs of travellers with disabilities or specific access requirements as they open up to visitors again. In partnership with the ONCE Foundation of Spain and the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), the United Nations specialised agency has released new guideline to ensure accessibility and inclusivity as the responsible restart of tourism gets underway.
According to the newest data from UNWTO, 40% of global destinations have now eased restrictions on travel introduced in response to COVID-19. Now, with tourism steadily returning, UNWTO has joined disabled people’s organizations and organizations from across civil society to design a basic set of recommendations aimed at maintaining the ethos of ‘Accessible Tourism for All’ in the new reality.
The ‘Reopening Tourism for Travellers with Disabilities’ guide also notes the opportunities available to destinations that take steps to accommodate the specific needs of persons with disabilities, those with specific access requirements and seniors. This is particularly relevant now since tourism has been among the hardest hit of all major economic sectors, with businesses big and small at risk.
UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Much progress has been made in making tourism more accessible to all. As we guide the responsible restart of tourism, we must make sure that this progress is not rolled back. Instead, it must be stepped up as it will benefit everyone. These Guidelines, produced in collaboration with ONCE Foundation and ENAT show that simple, thoughtful measures can make a real difference for travellers – and in return, allow destinations to welcome this wide and diverse demographic as they look to recover from COVID-19.”