How Can Tourism Become More Accessible, Inclusive and Sustainable? (by TrainingAid)
Making Tourism Accessible
“I have a wife and three children. If I can’t use a product or service, then the business loses not only one person’s business, but five.”
Martin Heng, Accessible Travel Manager & Editorial Adviser for Lonely Planet, emphasizes that people with disabilities and people with different access needs do travel, and are likely to travel with others.Based on Martin’s presentation (originally recorded on July 18th, 2019 as part of the GSTC Sustainable Tourism Training Online Course) and relevant industry resources, below are some ideas and insights on how and why we should promote not just accessibility, but also inclusive tourism that benefits everyone.
Contrary to what many might think, accessible tourism is not just about providing facilities that are wheel-chair accessible. Senior travelers. Parents traveling with small kids. Travelers with allergies and other medical conditions. These are all different types of travelers who have different degrees of accessibility restrictions and mobility requirements.
Tourism for All
“Tourism for All” is a concept that is addressing a growing segment of travelers with a diverse range of needs and requirements. What is “accessible” to one traveler who is a wheelchair user, for example, may be very difficult to access or completely inaccessible to another traveler with a different type of disability, mobility impairment or other conditions.
That’s why becoming more inclusive is a more appropriate goal for the tourism industry than focusing just on “accessible tourism” (which can be vague and hard to define – accessible for whom?). An inclusive tourism business or destination works to offer positive travel experiences to people with different needs by addressing them from various perspectives, and by providing design and service solutions that aim to cover as many different groups as possible.
Accessibility and Inclusivity in the GSTC Criteria
And that’s why Tourism for All is highlighted in the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Criteria, the baseline standard for sustainability in travel and tourism. “Tourism for All” is also referred to in the GSTC Criteria (GSTC Industry Criteria‘s criterion A7.4; GSTC Destination Criteria‘s criterion B8).