The first international standard on accessible tourism has been published

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The first international standard on accessible tourism has been published
Source: UNWTO
Fri July 16, 2021

It is aimed at service providers and tour operators, as well as public administrations and tourist destinations


The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the ONCE Foundation and the UNE (Spanish Association for Standardization) led the development of this pioneering and cross-cutting international standard, focused on accessible tourism throughout the value chain of the tourism sector.

It is a business that in the European Union represents a potential market of 80 million people, or 130 million if companions are included. Also, the market is growing considering the population pyramid in many European countries, and this is also the case in other parts of the world. On average, people with disabilities spend 30% more (€ 800 per trip vs. € 600), according to UNWTO.

As of today, this standard is available in Spanish as UNE-ISO 21902, having been translated and included in the national catalog of UNE standards. It is aimed at service providers and tour operators, as well as public administrations and tourist destinations.

The UNE-ISO 21902 standard establishes requirements and recommendations for accessible tourism. For example, for a beach to be considered accessible, it must have showers, toilets, and a path that can be used by everyone. Likewise, accessible pedestrian routes in a natural environment must have, among other requirements, a floor and continuous, firm and stable signage and must offer details of the itinerary before the start of the route. In general, in their written communications, tourist establishments must use clear and simple language following a logical sequence, with images and graphic symbols where appropriate, and with contrasting colors and easy-to-read fonts.

The standard is expected to become a key tool to enforce everyone's right to enjoy tourism and leisure. Despite the progress of recent decades, in many countries there is still a long way to go before the tourism sector takes into account the needs of the more than one billion people with disabilities in the world.

Due to the way in which the environments, infrastructure and a wide range of tourist services have been conceived, tourists with disabilities often face challenges from the actual planning of their trip and including their experience at the destination. This standard is intended to trigger change.

Throughout 2021 and 2022, the UNWTO, Fundación ONCE and UNE, together with experts, will carry out an awareness campaign aimed at their members and associates to influence the harmonization of accessible tourism on a global scale through standards.

This global standard was developed by the International Standardization Committee ISO / TC 228 on Tourism and related services, in which the UNWTO coordinated the WG14 working group that brought together 85 experts from more than 35 countries and five relevant organizations in this area that they were responsible for the writing. The ONCE Foundation held the technical leadership and UNE provided the secretariat and coordinated with ISO.

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