President's Message, July 2015. New perspectives and strategies towards Europe 2020
Photo of Annagrazia Laura, ENAT President, elected June 2013
We have been through a couple of years of intense work and excellent results at European and international level.
The European Commission Directorate General Internal market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs launched 3 tenders in 2013 for three studies on the demand, training and supply of accessible tourism products at the Union level. The studies were requested by the European Parliament's Committee on Transport and Tourism as part of the European Preparatory Action on Accessible Tourism, 2012 - 2014.
ENAT has successfully participated in two of the studies - the ones on "Mapping training and skills requirements" and "Mapping and prformsnce check of the supply of accessible tourism services". ENAT Members were also involved in the thrid study which measured the economic parameters of the demand for accessible tourism.
All three reports are available from our website.
What we have all learned from the results is that a lot of achievements have been reached in many EU member states but there is still a long way to go before our tourism market can be considered as fully user friendly towards any tourists and before citizens with specific access needs may go on holidays throughout Europe, free from access problems, risks and challenges.
The European Commission has gathered from each report suggestions and recommendations on how to plan future strategies for the improvements of weak areas in the tourism offer as a whole.
ENAT - A Partner for Cooperation and Development
ENAT is here to support and cooperate with the European Commission and the National and Regional Tourist Organisations to translate the recommendations into practical development strategies in the framework of the Europe 2020 objectives.
Our expertise is available to suggest, consult and promote any major initiative which will move Europe towards mainstreaming inclusive tourism for all.
Europe is not alone: the outcomes of the international conference “Destinations for All” held in Montreal in October 2014 clearly reinforce the need for a global strategy which is totally in line with the expectations and needs of any tourist with specific requirements, worldwide.
ENAT has been asked by tourism stakeholders to plan and release a roadmap on how to create a world network for accessible tourism, based on the issues included in the Declaration “A World for Everyone” signed in Montreal and supported by the participants in two other significant events:
- The 5TH ICAT International Conference On Accessible Tourism in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in December 2014
- The 1st Middle East University - EU Accessible Tourism Conference Tourism for All held in Amman, Jordan in April 2015.
Our proposals for a World Network on Accessible Tourism will be presented in September at the Fifth International Congress on Tourism for All, in Madrid.
ENAT is aware that the most frequent barriers encountered by tourists are related to the availability of information on accessible services (66%) and the lack of available services (50%). Informational barriers relate not only to having access to information but also to the reliability of information and being able to have information in various (alternative) accessible formats.
In all its areas of investigation, the EU Supply Study clearly identified the major role which accessibility information plays in contributing to the growth of accessible businesses and accessible destinations. It was noted that lack of information about access is cited as the greatest barrier to travel for those in the accessible tourism market. There are also significant weaknesses in the quality and amount of information provided for different customer groups.
The Pantou Directory (Pantou means “everywhere” in Greek), was developed by ENAT and partners for the EU Supply Study in order to provide a coherent and consistent method of gathering data on accessible suppliers and their respective services across Europe. We strongly recommend that this Directory of Accessible Tourism Suppliers should be further developed an publicised with EU support, giving greater visibility to tourism SMEs and destinations that aspire to be “accessible for all”.
One of the major challenges that we now face is to establish a long-term funding strategy at EU level in order to foster innovation in tourism accessibility and implement improvements within EU Member States and across national boundaries. Indeed, we must make all responsible bodies understand that the sooner we all solve this major problem, the sooner the Tourism for All market could develop positively, for the benefit of the tourism industry, the destinations and the employment opportunities.