With much of the gaze today being cast upon the environmental and economic aspects of sustainability in tourism, concerns around cultural and social issues can often take the back burner when a small business is assessing the direction and tough decisions it has to take in this competitive sector. Amongst those, thoughts about access for all to tourism opportunities can sometimes be dismissed as being best left to specialist operators or tourism providers.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) define Accessible Tourism as tourism and travel that is accessible to all people, with disabilities or not, including those with mobility, hearing, sight, cognitive, or intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, older persons and those with temporary disabilities
Just a cursory investigation in to the shape of accessible tourism in Europe, reveals that it is a far wider category than at first imagined. According to a recent report by the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT 2012), people with access needs in the EU took approximately 783 million trips, and the demand is anticipated to grow to about 862 million trips per year by 2020, equivalent to an average growth rate of 1.2% annually.
It is therefore a large and growing market that tourism businesses ignore at their peril! The business case for accessible tourism is really quite straight forward - Tourism businesses with improved accessibility, appeal to a wider range of visitors. It is just good business to provide a quality customer service to an important section of your customers.
But what conditions and types of adaptation might a small tourism business have to make in order to become more accessible? And how can this sometimes specialist market be tapped in? These questions and many others are addressed in the EU Erasmus+ funded project called Sustainable MAnageR in TOURism Sector = SMARTOUR.
The project targets the free provision either through its free on-line training package and sustainable management tool, found at: smartour.dcnet.eu , or through short face-to-face bespoke training sessions. These cover a wide range of relevant topics and aim to assist those working in the tourism industry to develop their knowledge and skills in business operations, environment and culture with a view to improving sustainability both in their individual businesses and towards the wider tourism offer in their destination.
The particular module we have developed regarding accessible tourism allows participants to; Recognise the current scope and potential of the market for those with access needs; Understand requirements of this growing market; and Create strategies to ensure that your business is ready and able to provide an appropriate level of service for customers with access needs.
To find out more about this and other modules and topics covered by SMARTOUR, please come along to our free half-day event at SOAS University in central London from 12.45 to 5pm on Tuesday 23rd May. For further information and to register for the event, please visit: