Palma, Majorca. | A.S.

The World Tourism Organisation, or WTO, has called on tourist destinations to be more aware of the needs of travellers with disabilities and the specific access requirements they may require, when they reopen after the coronavirus pandemic.

A new set of guidelines has been published by the UNWTO in conjunction with the ONCE Foundation and the European Network for Accessible Tourism, or ENAT to ensure accessibility and inclusion as the Tourism Sector grinds back to life after the lockdown.

The UNWTO is collaborating with Organisations for People with Disabilities and Civil Society Organisations to design a basic set of recommendations aimed at maintaining the spirit of 'Accessible Tourism for All' in the so-called ‘new normal.’

'Reopening of Tourism for Travellers with Disabilities' also highlights destinations where measures are already in place for those with disabilities, those who have specific access requirements and the elderly.

"This is particularly relevant now because Tourism was one of the worst affected of all the major economic Sectors and large and small businesses are in jeopardy," said an ONCE Foundation Spokesperson.

"Much progress has been made in making tourism more accessible to all and as tourism resumes we must ensure that this progress is not reversed, it must be intensified because it will benefit everyone," said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “These guidelines, produced in collaboration with the ONCE Foundation and ENAT, show that simple and well-thought-out measures can make a real difference for travellers and allow destinations to accommodate this broad and diverse demographic whilst seeking recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Alberto Durán, Vice-President of the ONCE Foundation, insists that Tourism is key.

"It is essential that we take advantage of this moment of change so that everyone knows how to take the disabled and their families into account,” he said. “They are the customers who will help businesses get ahead. It is a time for challenges and opportunities for all.”

ENAT President, Annagrazia Laura noted that “by implementing these practical guidelines for controlling Covid-19, ensuring accessibility and inclusion,” Tourism Service Providers can contribute to global efforts to inspire consumer confidence and these recommendations will undoubtedly benefit tourists, businesses and tourist destinations," she said.

Sector Recommendations

The recommendations cover four different areas: Travel Planning & Protocols; Transport; Accommodation, Bars & Restaurants and Tourist Activities.

Travel Planning & Protocols include, ensuring a smooth travel experience for all, by providing the relevant information and accessibility.

Transport recommendations include the importance of employee training, the adjustment of protocols for passengers with disabilities, access requirements at airports, bus and train stations and the supply and hygienic maintenance of mobility equipment.

Recommendations for Accommodation, Bars & Restaurants focus on accessibility and meeting the different needs of customers, whilst ensuring social distancing and improving hygiene procedures at all tourist establishments.

Tourism Activity recommendations include helping destinations and attractions to adapt existing protocols, to take into account accessibility issues related to queues, health and safety measures and meeting place capacity.