"Accessibility should be understood as an investment, not a cost" - Experts at Fitur International Tourism Fair

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Fundación ONCE, UNWTO and UNE presented at the International Tourism Fair the keys to apply the international norm of accessible tourism.

Madrid, 19 January 2023. The International Tourism Fair, Fitur 2023, hosted this Wednesday the conference 'Tourism for all people: How can companies and destinations move forward with the accessibility agenda?', promoted by Fundación ONCE, the World Tourism Organization ( OMT) and the Spanish Association for Standardization (UNE). The meeting put on the table the need to understand accessibility "as an investment, not as a cost" and to bet on tourism for all as "a profitable business".

The meeting served to promote the publication of the UNE-ISO 21902:2021 standard on accessible tourism, the result of the ONCE Foundation's collaboration with the UNWTO and UNE, which provides the requirements and recommendations so that all the agents involved in the tourism sector know how to make your tourism products and services accessible.

The event was attended by, among others, Miguel Carballeda, president of the ONCE Social Group; Zoritsa Urosevic, Executive Director of the UNWTO, and Javier García Díaz, General Director of UNE and Vice President of ISO.

All of them agreed on "the great business opportunity" that betting on accessible tourism represents for the recovery of economic activity, "betting on tourism for all people".

As they warned, accessibility in tourism continues to be unfulfilled, with 10% of the world's population having problems being able to carry out tourist activities, travel, stay in hotels, wander independently along natural routes or cities, eat in restaurants, etc.

With this norm, Carballeda pointed out, we offer the how, but we need the involvement of the public sector, "in charge of creating and ensuring compliance with the laws"; from the private sector, “so that they include accessibility criteria in their strategies”, and from end users, “so that they are aware of the regulations and demand their application”.

Urosevic, for her part, assured that the publication of the ISO Standard is a great milestone in the collaboration between the three entities. "It is an instrument that contributes to the enjoyment of tourism on equal terms and is also a great ally in our fight to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals," she added.

Finally, García stressed that one of the main challenges is to promote a change of mentality in the tourism sector, "understanding accessibility as an investment and not as a cost". You have to convey the idea that accessibility is not a legal compliance problem, it can also be a business opportunity. This is not only a matter of human rights and equal opportunities, but also a significant competitive advantage for destinations and the private sector.”

International Standard

The accessible tourism standard is an international standard that includes best practices so that all people can enjoy tourism on equal terms, especially people with disabilities.

In addition to promoting this standard, the ONCE Foundation, the UNWTO and the UNE presented the guide for its use, aimed at public administrations, which highlights the actions that can be carried out by organizations in charge of tourism marketing policies, strategies and plans. .

The session addressed international standardization in the field of accessible tourism with the participation of Jesús Hernández, director of Universal Accessibility and Innovation of Fundación ONCE and vice president of the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT); Natalia Ortiz de Zárate, head of Tourism at UNE; Marina Diotallevi, Director of Ethics, Culture and Social Responsibility of the UNWTO.

Further information

New UNWTO user-friendly guide for destinations to implement ISO tourism accessibility standard