UNWTO and its partners advance on a shared accessibility agenda

UNWTO, the ONCE Foundation and the Spanish Association for Standardization UNE have advanced efforts to introduce a comprehensive international standard for accessibility throughout the tourism sector

(Source: UNWTO)

In a special session of the Tourism for All Seminar, held at the FITUR 2023 tourism fair in Madrid, the three organizations joined representatives of tourism administrations, destinations, companies and professional associations in the sector to present new tools aimed at implementing the UNE-ISO 21902 standard on Accessible Tourism, throughout the value chain. Among these tools is a new user guide focused on accommodation, catering and MICE companies, presented at FITUR. The guide will serve as a starting point to assess your levels of accessibility and to develop or adapt your services.

This new guide was produced in collaboration with leading industry and civil society organizations such as the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, the International Circle of Hospitality Directors (CIDH), as well as the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT). It is a continuation of the guidelines published in December, focused on public administrations; in the case of the latter, the support of Turismo de Portugal and Turismo de Argentina was key in the messages to governments and destinations, in charge of tourism policies, strategies and marketing plans.

Accessibility for growth and resilience
During the conference, Miguel Carballeda, president of the ONCE Social Group, and Jose Manuel Huesa, director of Servimedia, argued that there is no longer an excuse for any leisure and tourism destination or experience to be inaccessible to any tourist, regardless of background or ability. UNWTO Executive Director Zoritsa Urosevic added that accessibility is key to achieving the SDGs. It is also key to resilience, as it attracts new customers, improving the economic performance of the sector. Javier García Díaz, General Director of UNE and Vice President of ISO, concluded that accessibility standards should be taken as guidance tools to carry out improvements, instead of mandatory sets of measures.

Also in Madrid, the Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador presented its planning for new policies at this event, while the Mayor's Office of Córdoba (Spain) shared new actions at the local destination level, benefiting local communities and visitors. The directors of RIU Hotel & Resorts and the International Circle of Hospitality addressed the most pressing challenge in the application of standards and the great number of opportunities that universal accessibility entails.  

The speakers demonstrated once again why accessibility is an important opportunity for social and business inclusion as the recovery of tourism continues. The UNWTO, its partners and the new collaborating organizations remain committed to the production of new policy guidance tools in the field of accessibility, throughout 2023, leading the change.

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