Inclusive Destination Development: A New Initiative of the Inter-American Institute on Disability and Inclusive Development

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Below I provide the following in anticipation of the release of the offical English translation of the Project Overview of the three-country Tourism for All project launched by the Inter-American Institute on Disability and Inclusive Development (IIDID).

The Tourism for All Network

Responsible, Sustainable, and inclusive Development of Tourist Destinations

Overview

This project was developed by the Inter-American Institute on Disability and Inclusive Development - IIDI and its partners. It is a response to the enormous unmet demand of tourists, especially from the U.S.A., Europe and Asia, for accessible cruises and the market potential they represent in for inclusive destination development.

We refer, mainly, to retirees and seniors, who possess time, money and the desire to travel, but who find themselves with reduced mobility, generally due to physical, visual or auditory limitations, among others. This rapidly growing population has increased its life expectancy guaranteeing a long term growth market.

Our project incorporates the values and objectives of diversity and inter-generational integration while simultaneously seeking to generate employment opportunities through economic and social development. This will be accomplished through the active participation and initiative of local excluded and low income groups, and local employers.

Vision

To accomplish an integrated application of the principles of sustainability and social inclusion in tourist destination development

To promote infrastructure, economic, and cultural transformation in order to raise the quality of life and well-being of those who visit or reside there.

Goal

To create a network of accessible tourist destinations operating under plans that integrate environment management and accessibility guaranteeing inclusion of the tourist with varying ranges of functional capacity, such as seniors and people with disabilities. In this we affirm the objective of Universal Design which is “a framework for the design of places, things, information, communication and policy to be usable by the widest range of people operating in the widest range of situations without special or separate design” 1) often achieving its goal “at little or no extra cost.” 2)

Specific Objectives

Improve existing tourist products and services, making them accessible to all by:

1. Preserving the environment;
2. reValuing the local culture;
3. Promoting inclusion social, minimizing discrimination, prejudice, and exclusion
4. Fighting poverty and generating conditions of better income distribution;
5. Educating the tourism industry, the general population and public officials about the values of environmental sustainability, social inclusion and responsible tourism;
6. Educating the general public and public officials on the social and economic benefits generated by the practice of environmental sustainability, inclusion and responsible tourism;

Justification

Annually, North American adults with disabilities and/or reduced mobility spend, on average, $ 13.6 billion in tourism. In 2002, this group made 32 million trips and, in total, spent:

1. $4.2 billion on hotels;
2. $3.3 billion on airfare;
3. $2.7 billion on food and drink; and
4. $3.4 billion in commerce, local transport and other activities.

The most popular international destinations for this tourist segment are, in order of preference:

1. Canada;
2. Mexico;
3. Europe;
4. The Caribbean.

Of the total of 21 million people, 69% had traveled at least once in last the 2 years, including: 3.9 million business trips; 20 million tourism trips; 4.4 million business-oriented trips/tourism.

During those 2 years, of the total of 2 million adults with disabilities or reduced mobility, 7% spent $ 1,600 outside the continental U.S. Moreover, 20% had traveled at least 6 times during those 2 years.

A study by the Open Doors Organization it estimated, in 2005, that people with disabilities and/or reduced mobility would spend $ 35 billion in restaurants in that to year. The same study disclosed that lives than 75% of these people frequent restaurants at least once a week. The U.S Department of Labor reported that the burgeoning market of North Americans with disabilities or reduced mobility possess $175 billion in disposable income.

In the United Kingdom, the Employers Forum on Disability reported that there are 10 million adults with disabilities and/or reduced mobility in the United Kingdom with an annual purchasing power of 80 billion British Pounds.

In Canada, the Conference Board of Canada reported that, in 2001, the annual combined disposable income of Canadians with disabilities or reduced mobility was $25 billion CAN. These numbers tend you be multiplied will be the demand currently restrained, if the destinations - in contrast of what it happens today - you start you offer you access and also environments will be all. We see this fact the a great possibility you foment the international and national tourism in the South-American countries, while we generate possibilities will be the education citizen, the reduction of the poverty and the local socioeconomic development

In the port of Rio De Janeiro they only ploughs about 30 thousand people to per to year who had left you go down will be the access lack. If you invest in the accessibility of the ports, cultural markets, spaces and infrastructure of transport, hotels and restaurants, certainly will attract the cruise market, that today you donate not to offer in option will be the tourists with reduced mobility. These will be able then you start you disembark in the cities destinations of its cruises and you leave divided in the country.


In the case of Uruguay and Argentina, we have followed the development of prompt initiatives will be the promotion of the Tourism will be All, mainly taking in account the great potential of development of the social tourism in the Southern Cone. Initiatives in this line already would be of great utility and stimulation the thousand of new travelers.


Project Scope

The strategy of the project is you take off advantage of great unexplored and existing market already in the tourism area and you generate lives ecologically responsible communities social and, balanced and economically also lives l will be all - inside of criterion of sustainable development.

The proposal consists of the identification of areas strong tourist appeal, in key ports that are used by the cruise industry along the coast of South America’s Southern Cone. The strategy is to identify and engage existing resources and potential taking into account the natural character of the place and seeking support for the implementation of an integrated approach to inclusion. The project scope encompasses policy, services, public works, private sector and non-governmental organization initiative.

The creation of various experimental projects is also foreseen. Each, designed in accordance with the characteristics of its locality, can serve as a development laboratory to improve project practices and build capacities that will scale throughout the Region.

Central Principles of the Project

The project aims at the creation of pilot network of tourist destinations utilizing a management plan involving all the community initially directed toward the resolution of these problems:

1. Access to Infrastructure, applying Universal Design principles and established code and practice for accessibility to constructed environments and spaces including ports, public markets, tourist attractions, means of transport, historical, cultural, and natural attractions, etc. to communication and information; to the services offered by the tourism sector.

2. Tourism for All, creating and deploying adequate human resources, equipment and technology in the search for solution that provide access and full participation of tourists with varying levels of functional capacity including seniors and people with disabilities.

3. Environmental (Green) Management, initially addressing the problem of waste, through sensitization and environmental education directed to the general public, entrepreneurs, public officials and tourists; through, engaging existing communities of waste recyclers (“catadores”), redirecting and recycling waste, and enabling new stakeholder groups to integrated into the value chain associated with waste materials allowing the manufacture and sale of products back to the tourist market.

4. Attitudinal and Cultural Transformation, based in the principles of social inclusion, as well as through educational programs and capacity-building among youth to become agents of change against violence, for the promotion of the health, and for social inclusion.

Each locality possesses its own character and interests. Any area or sustainable project that is in tune with the approach to development outlined here may, through a proposal application process, participate in this project. Private enterprise and responsible commerce (Fair Trade), micro-credit, projects addressing diversity, are expected and welcome.

With reduction of poverty and inequality as foundational goals of this project and in conjunction with the UN Millennial Development Goals this project foresees partnerships with NGOs, agencies of the United Nations (OMT, UNDP, UNICEF, UNESCO, ILO, FAO), with social entrepreneurial networks such as Ashoka and Avina, and with agencies of international cooperation in general.

Selection of Destinations

The Tourism for All Network will be comprised of key destinations in various countries, seeking in this manner to identify common criteria, practices, and standards of quality. These will serve as a baseline for global standardization independent of the specific implementations in particular locales.

The initial focus of this project will be to pursue the transformation of international tourism destinations along the routes taken by cruise lines in South America. It is our expectation that addressing this currently expanding and dynamic market sector will bring visibility to our initiative and demonstrate its present potential. This strategy not only guarantees automatic generation of demand but results in the opportunity of gathering market statistics to implement further refinements or corrections. It permits the monitoring and the evaluation of the results of the project, taking into account that seniors and people with disabilities are a primary cruise market.

Financing and Sustainability

This initiative proposes to work within existing structures and programs. In this manner it intends to evolve strategies of synergy, prevent duplication, avoid generation of special sub-projects and economize on expenses. This initiative envisions the creation of a network in which each partner commits to implementing inclusion within the range of the services it provides in its domain of action utilizing its own resources to address issues should they arise. For example:

1. If a partner city undertakes an urban infrastructure project it will, within its budgetary constraints, apply principles of Universal Design and practices of accessibility. Current research documents that construction of accessible spaces does not significantly increase construction expenses (maximum 1%);

2. If a partner non-governmental organization is working with young children and youth, in projects related to education and civic engagement, or with women, they can, through the use of inclusive strategies, create tourism-oriented initiatives that could undoubtedly be sources of income-generation supporting their mission;

3. If a local hotel or hotel chain has already budgeted for a program of human resource development they could modify it to include training with attention to diversity and inclusion.

In terms of cost of the project as a whole, moving from the macro level, what remains is the question of the availability of resources appropriate to the needs of each sector. Today Brazil and the Region possess these resources and a sufficient installed capacity to meet the demand in practically all these areas. The costs can be absorbed by those who request the support.

What represents the biggest challenge in this proposal is, in fact, the maintenance - over the long run - of commitment to the strategy of inclusive development. To insure that the project is sustainable, investment in cultural change and community empowerment (ownership) is required at the local level. To do so requires a permanent process of support, monitoring, and evaluation. I also requires that each sector be diligent in exercising its responsibilities and assuming its costs in this investment.

The Consortia

Local consortia of stakeholders are necessary to manage their own projects. Essential stakeholders include state and municipal governments, the private sector, taxi cooperatives, restaurants, hotels and their associations, public markets, port authorities and cruise operators operating in the region, among others. These will be the first beneficiaries of the initiative, gaining access to a growing market, on the condition that they provide adequate services. Research demonstrates that this market already exists and is growing, although it is today dormant or restrained, awaiting possibility expand itself exponentially.

Other stakeholders to be included either directly or indirectly in these consortia include bi- or multilateral agencies, non-governmental and civic organizations, community representatives, and human rights and economic development groups.

Coordination of the Tourism for All Network beyond the local level should occur at a national level in each country where this initiative is undertaken. Regional Committees and an International Committee should have consultative rather than regulatory or fiscal responsibilities.

Reach and Impact

The activities undertaken by the tourism industry and participating communities will allow establishment of a baseline, permanent monitoring and the evaluation and measurement of concrete impacts. These will relate as much to the evolution of the market as to the destination’s socioeconomic development and environment health. Other permanent aspects of the initiative will support individual projects and include programs of certification, development and/or implementation of specifications such as building codes, enforcement of local legislation, and the creation of resource centers on Inclusive Destination Development.

All the initiative will serve in the participating countries as laboratories and support for the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Human Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) passed by the General Assembly on December 13, 2006. The region also celebrates the start of the Decade of Americas for the Rights and the Dignity of the People with Deficiency (OAS 2006-2016).

This initiative, through its innovative approach, has generated much interest among a diversity of stakeholder sectors at various levels and has begun to extend its alliances and partnerships to entities such as:

1. World Tourism Organization (WTO)
2. Ministry and representative and regulating Secretariats of Tourism, agencies and entities of the area, in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina;
3. Government of the States and Cities interested in joining the Network;
4. International and national NGOs, general tour operators, and specialized operators in the areas of adventure tourism, social tourism, public events, sustainability and other questions of the environment;
5. Schools of Tourism and academia;
6. Agencies of Development such as the BNDES, IDB and the World Bank, Mercosul, among others.

During the last World-wide Tourism Forum - DestiNations 2006 in Porto Alegre, RS (11/29/06 - 12/02/06) some of these alliances were established and others are in progress.

Plan of Action: Network of Inclusive Destinations

Selection of initial destination sites will be the first step of the project. Next steps include accessibility audits of the port and associated tourist areas as well as cataloging and assessment of available services. Local groups should establish short, medium and long term priorities and develop low, average and high budget estimates. Identification and recruitment of partners into the Local and National Consortia and the Regional Committee should take place simultaneously with undertaking the initial stages of making infrastructure and services accessible.

In this way we can build the resources of the local network and concretely launch the campaign. Direct contact of partners and other work by the local network will serve tog mobilize partnerships between all the sectors mentioned above. During this phase of negotiation on the creation of the structure of the project, surveys of the current situation in the participant destinations will have to be undertaken and as well as development of a plan of action reflecting different levels of complexity, timelines, and budget.

As a result of exploratory conversations already undertaken the Network should incorporate the following cities which lie along the main cruise itineraries:

Brazil

Salvador da Bahia
Búzios
Rio De Janeiro,
Angara Dos Reis
Santos
Florianópolis

Uruguay

Montevideo
Punta del Este

Argentina

Buenos Aires
Puerto Madryn
Ushuaia

An estimated 18 – 24 months will be necessary for this initial stage.

For more information, favor to enter in contact with:

Rosangela Berman Bieler
email: RBBieler@aol.com
IIDIsab@aol.com

1) http://www.adaptiveenvironments.org/index.php?option=Content&Itemid=3
2) http://www.design.ncsu.edu/cud/about_ud/about_ud.htm

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