Scowsill said: “Travel & Tourism needs to take accessibility requirements seriously. The imperative is not only moral, but it also makes good business sense.”
The global Sustainable Development Goals provide a roadmap for a more equitable and sustainable future. If Travel & Tourism is going to be truly inclusive in its growth, it must ensure that it is accessible to everyone.
Furthermore, nearly 15% of the world’s population is estimated to live with some form of disability. As populations get older, the number of people with special needs is going to increase.
“Many tourism businesses can be deterred from making themselves more accessible. Sometimes they have financial concerns about the investment necessary to alter or refit their facilities, and at other times they are concerned about offending people. That is why days such as the World Tourism Day are so important. We need to raise awareness of the opportunities of accessibility and the mechanisms by which it can be achieved,” stressed Scowsill.
Scowsill identified three priorities for the Travel & Tourism sector when it comes to accessibility:
• Understand the market dynamics and opportunities when it comes to accessibility, and how they relate to your business so that you can prioritise actions accordingly.
• Look at what the leading players are providing and learn from them. Often some simple adaptations or a mere awareness of the needs of people with a disability can make a big difference.
• Partner with organisations which have experience of working in accessibility, to ensure that what you are providing is appropriate and communicated effectively. .
Scowsill further argued that catering for people with disabilities goes far beyond those travellers restricted to wheelchairs. It includes all forms of mobility restrictions, hearing or visual impairments, learning disabilities or mental health issues. It encompasses the needs of an ageing population around the world.
WTTC also encourages accessibility in tourism through its Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. In 2015, Ilunion Hoteles won the People Category for its pioneering work in accessible design, and having a work force of people with disabilities in their hotels.
The 2017 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are now open for entries and WTTC encourages companies that do work in accessibility to apply. Winners will be announced at WTTC Global Summit, which will be held in Bangkok, Thailand, 26 – 27 April 2017.