Why Have A ‘European Network for Accessible Tourism’?

Europe - like other parts of the world - lacks many appropriate accessibility provisions for the general population. This is a problem which affects many people both in their daily lives and also as tourists.

Physical access and access to information are often less than adequate in transport, at tourist destinations, in accommodation and all kinds of venues and attractions. This lack of accessibility has a direct and negative effect on tourist numbers (domestic, inbound and outbound) and on the quality of tourism destinations and products. Many tourists and would-be travellers experience access problems, especially those with physical or sensory disabilities, people who are older and perhaps a little more frail, as well as pregnant women, families with small children and people with a chronic health condition or a temporary disability. All of these people need “accessible tourism”.

Some of the access difficulties we find today are due to many years of ignorance about access requirements when planning, designing and managing buildings, transport systems and infrastructure. For a long time, customers’ access requirements were not known or understood, and even today – despite improvements - accessibility issues are not being taken sufficiently into account in the tourism sector.

Planning laws and policies, building norms and standards in accessibility vary widely between the regions and Member States of the European Union, and among neighbouring countries. The availability of expertise in planning and designing accessible infrastructure and services also varies considerably. This situation gives rise to some confusion and lack of certainty when planning and developing accessible tourism facilities and services. - either when upgrading or starting from scratch.

ENAT is working to improve accessibility in the tourism sector by consolidating existing knowledge in the universal design of environments, products and services and giving all actors the opportunity to put this knowledge to use through collaboration.

With ENAT, we want to help make Europe as a whole an accessible destination, where all travellers can move freely, enjoy new experiences and be sure of getting the service they need and expect. We believe that accessible tourism must be made a priority - for the good of the tourists and for the long-term sustainability of the tourism industry.

Update, 2020: Transcending boundaries, uniting the global community

Since its founding in 2008, ENAT's mission has been "...to make European tourism destinations, products and services accessible to all travellers and to promote accessible tourism around the world".

Thanks to the combined efforts of our members, past and present, ENAT has become a global resource and reference point for the shared vision of inclusive, accessible tourism, often summarised in the three words: "Tourism for All".

ENAT is not exclusively European. Far from it.  We welcome members from all world regions, countries and destinations who share our values, and who seek to be front-runners in the field of accessible tourism. Accessible Tourism seeks to overcome barriers and transcend boundaries, uniting actors and stakeholders for the common good. 

We are proud to work with the global community of decision-makers, tourism authorities, large and small businesses, Non-Governmental Organisations, educational institutions, professionals and individuals by helping them to reach their goals and providing them with networking opportunities. At the same time, we value the diversity of experience and expertise they bring to our network, from all parts of the world.

As we face similar - and also different - challenges, we learn from each other and, as a growing, global community, we recognise and share good practices that can benefit everyone. 
Together we strive for higher professional standards and improved quality in tourism services, offering greater choice and a warm welcome for the great diversity of tourists of all ages and abilities.

Entering a new decade in 2020, ENAT looks forward to strengthening the association's global reach, by serving as a network for people and organisations everywhere who wish to learn more about Accessible Tourism as a driving force for competitive, sustainable and inclusive businesses, communities and destinations.     

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