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ENAT Study Report No. 2. Services and Facilities for Accessible Tourism in Europe

23/04/2008 

As part of the two year ENAT work programme 2006 – 2007, a study of services and facilities for accessible tourism in Europe was conducted by Toegankelijkheidsbureau (Belgium).

This report presents definitions of accessible tourism, the target public and their specific needs, leading to an overview of services and facilities that tourism providers can adopt to improve accessibility.

Accessible services should be regarded as an essential adjunct to an accessible environment. Good design and accessible buildings cannot deliver truly accessible tourist experiences on their own. It is therefore vital that tourism providers develop and improve their services.

The tourism sector in Europe is facing growing demands from travellers who want better access in hotels, at holiday destinations and tourist attractions. The number of European travellers in the 55+ age group is increasing and, together with disabled people and their families, these customers are looking for travel options where basic accessibility features are standard. Level access to buildings, large-print menus and accessible toilets are just some of the things that are needed. And tourism providers must be prepared to deliver accessible premises and venues, if they want to catch the rising tide of accessible tourism.

Every tourist has certain expectations about travelling and the destinations they choose to visit. It is estimated that for more than 27% of the European population, the availability of accessible venues and services is an essential factor in deciding where to go and what to book. Notably, studies have shown that disabled people are excluded from travelling and enjoying a holiday - at home or abroad - by a lack of suitable facilities and services. There is generally a lack of choice and lack of availability in terms of accessible accommodation, transport modes, attractions and activities.

The market potential is enormous, with 50 million disabled people in Europe, and nearly all of them would like to travel with their families and friends. Added to this there are hundreds of millions of older people (within Europe and from overseas) who may have health and mobility problems associated with ageing but they have the economic means and the desire to travel.

The European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) aims to help tourism providers to meet these demands. ENAT is a new network for travel and tourism businesses and organisations that support – or want to know more about – making tourism accessible for all customers across Europe. The Network aims to build bridges between travel and tourism businesses operating in Europe, specialist advisors, policy-makers, researchers, tourism education institutions, consumer organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations, all of whom share the goal of creating more accessible destinations and offers for tourists.

Good practices in the provision of accessible facilities and services can act as examples to inspire and encourage the tourism industry to make their offers more accessible. This study provides some examples from various sectors of tourism and different parts of Europe, pointing to resources and references which can assist providers in their commitment to make tourism accessible, so as to meet the needs of all consumers.

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