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President's Message: 8 May 2018

photo of Anna Grazia Laura, ENAT PresidentPhoto of Anna Grazia Laura, ENAT President

Rome, 8 May 2018.

Dear Friends,

The 8th of May is a very important date for our Association!

It marks ENAT’s tenth anniversary and I am particularly pleased to celebrate it with you all since I addressed my first message to ENAT Members, as the newly-elected President, exactly 5 years ago. It has been exciting to follow the development of our association in this 5-year period, as we succeeded in consolidating our major achievements of the early years and proceeded further towards the world vision of our network.

We are all aware that the offer of “Inclusive Tourism for All” is still progressing but hasn’t reached the point where everybody will be granted a fully qualitative and autonomous offer of tourism products.

We are, however, also proud to say that we have contributed to overcome many difficult steps towards the recognition of rights and improvement of quality in the tourism offer, not only in the European Union Member States but all over the world.

Let me mention three major areas where ENAT is actively working to increase the confidence of travellers, as well as the competitive positioning of the tourism industry.

Accessibility Standards
ENAT’s work on standards for accessibility in the tourism sector continues as we take part  in two major International and European initiatives on this subject. A new ISO Working Group on "Accessible Tourism for All”, was established in 2017 under ISO Technical Committee 228 Tourism Services, to help develop a Standard on “Tourism for All”. This project is led by the UN World Tourism Organisation and Fundación ONCE, Spain, with whom ENAT enjoys a close working relationship, having developed several guidance documents with them for the tourism industry. The Tourism for All voluntary Standard promises to be a valuable reference, that will help to align policies and practices in accessible tourism at international level. As such it should provide a much needed technical basis for businesses and public   sector bodies to invest and develop new tourism services to serve the growing accessible tourism market, within the broad framework of sustainable development.

ENAT is also acting as official liaison organisation with the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), in the Technical Committee for Mandate M/420 “Public Procurement for an Accessible Built Environment”. This work involves developing a new European Standard which is intended to support EU Public Procurement and the European Accessibility Act, which is expected to be passed by the European Parliament in 2018.

Finally, as regards Standards, I am pleased to announce that we will soon be launching ENAT’s World Tourism for All Quality Programme in conjunction with our Annual General Assembly in Brussels this June. This unique certification programme is the culmination of several years of development, responding to the need for defined and consistent quality criteria for accessible tourism training, service delivery and marketing. The World Quality Programme will provide a guided pathway for service providers to improve and qualify their business, leading to the Quality Label, recognising their commitment to accessibility and inclusion for all, enhancing staff competence and ensuring first-class customer service.

ENAT Networking
In 2016 a nucleus of ENAT’s public sector members formed the ENAT NTOs’ Learning Group on the initiative of some National and Regional Tourism Organisations, bring together public sector executives working on accessible tourism policy, strategy, business support and marketing. These members, who represent the “cream” of Europe’s public bodies in accessible tourism, come together to share experiences, build a common understanding and set concrete goals for innovation and improvement in accessible and inclusive tourism. The third meeting of the NTOs’ Learning Group will be held in Brussels at the end of June on the theme: “Setting Standards, Measuring Performance, Marketing World-Class Tourism for All”.

I am convinced that working side by side with the public bodies involved in the promotion of tourism is essential to share and develop a unified vision on how the tourism offer should be shaped to meet requirements and expectations of visitors and to plan together the most convenient and workable strategies to reach the goal.

Human Resource Development
The third area of intervention that ENAT promotes is linked to the improvement of the human resources skills in welcoming tourists with specific access needs and how to make this added knowledge beneficial for the tourism enterprises.

Through our participation in several outstanding EU-financed projects we now have a wealth of training offers which can be useful to smaller and larger tourism enterprises wishing to qualify their services and the quality of their offer. ENAT members are ready to support training initiatives both in Europe and further afield. Our newest training project, for example, aims to enhance the awareness and skills of tour operators in China, thanks to an Award from “Booking Cares Fund” to our ENAT Member, Ms. Xun Ji – coinciding with 2018 EU-China Tourism Year.

In all three of the areas mentioned above, we acknowledge the positive contributions of our many partners, including public bodies, private enterprises and NGOs and, not least, the funding organisations that have entrusted us with their support. We feel sure that the harmonious blend of our results so far will give an invaluable added value to the concepts and realizations in the field of Tourism for All.

In conclusion, I wish to congratulate our most important resource – our loyal and dedicated ENAT Members – who are setting the example of inclusive tourism in action every day.  Thanks to our Members everywhere, we can be truly proud of the position acquired by our non-profit association, after ten years of hard work, with the support of every one of you. Having grown to include members from all continents of the world, we are considered a valuable pillar in the promotion of accessible tourism: our efforts, commitment and experience are widely recognised by both public and private bodies in the tourism industry.

Our work is far from over and is, indeed, as relevant as ever, as more and more countries, destinations and enterprises seek to improve access as a quality factor for sustainable and responsible tourism. This fact must give us the strength and energy to continue, overcome challenges and support all actors in the tourism sector, working towards our common goal.

Happy anniversary!

Anna Grazia Laura.



 

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