Preliminary Standards: Inclusion and Visitability for the Hospitality Industry


Gordon Rattray of Able Travel is first out of the gate in publishing a new type of resource for hoteliers. The document, Making Your Property More Inclusive: Basic Guidelines for African Safaris, is only one example of a new generation of results-oriented advice flowing from the kind of thinking evident at the Second International Conference on Accessible Tourism held at the UN campus in Bangkok, Thailand.

The core concepts are "Social Inclusion" and "Visitability."

While mere accessibility addresses usability of basic infrastructure by all, social inclusion (or simply "inclusion") refers to the availability of the activities and social interaction taking place in any space. Inclusion is the more powerful and adaptive concept. In terms of the tourism industry "accessibility" is equivalent to a building having indoor plumbing and running water -- so basic as to be a non-issue -- unless it is absent!

Visitability is a specific application of the seven principles of Universal Design to the minimum requirements for usability of the built environment by persons with mobility impairments. The concept of Visitability has been developed by Eleanor Smith and, until now, exclusively applied to private residences.

However, we know that concepts of "home" and "hominess" migrate into the hospitality industry at a rapid pace. Visitability as a hotel design trend is arising simultaneously in Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia. It will be a topic of hallway discussions at the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF-2008) in Bankok next month.

Gordon is writing a safari guide for Pw. If you would like to contribute, he is looking for anybody with experience of Africa or adventure travel in general for this market. See his site:

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