For many years, Direct Access has worked internationally to guide businesses in the tourism sector to meet their local standards of accessibility. Although we have always been and continue to be proud of our clients opting to do what is ultimately just for the millions of disabled tourists across the globe, we have never seen a standardized guide for accessible tourism reinforcing the moral sensibilities of Direct Access. Until now, that is.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), along with The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Fundación ONCE, has published the first international standard on accessible tourism for all, with the aim to reinforce the rights of disabled persons to leisure and tourism without disadvantage. Addressing service providers, tourism operators, administrations, and tourism destinations, we see this document’s publication as a significant turning point for disability awareness within the industry. As it aims to be inclusive of all disabilities alike.
For instance, under the guidance of the standard, beaches must offer showers, toilets, and a route accessible by all to fall under the definition of accessible. Also, accessible pedestrian routes in a natural environment must provide, amongst other requirements, firm and stable floor and signaling and must offer details on the itinerary before the start of the route. In addition, written communications must use clear and simple language, and with contrasting colors, easy-to-read fonts, and symbols, which will greatly benefit those with low vision or on the autistic spectrum.
In addition to benefiting the personal needs of people with disabilities, the guidelines will also stand to help proprietors on a financial level. Despite the unprecedented suppression of travel for almost two years, tourism within the European Union alone is believed to represent a potential market of 80 million people upon return to normality, or 130 million people if businesses are also taken into consideration. Of this enormous customer pool, many people among them are likely to have some form of disability. What’s more, is that they are likely to spend considerably more than a person without a disability. On average, people with disabilities spend 30% more (800 Euro per trip as opposed to 600 EUR), according to the UNWTO.
For all businesses we have worked with internationally, Direct Access and our ADA Access Consultants continue to use the Codes within the country the facility/building is based in when carrying out our access consultancy work. But we are, nevertheless, incredibly pleased to see a minimum standard coordinated by ISO.