ENAT: Accessible Tourism Destination Certification Programme by TGB, Belgium

The first international certification programme for accessible tourism destinations has been developed and carried out in Lousã, Portugal by the Belgian Accessibility Office, Toegangelijkheidsbureau (TGB).

The Accessible Tourism Destination Certification Programme or ATDCP is based on an extensive audit of the Destination Management Organisation's accessible tourism policies, infrastructure, transport, services and visitor information, and includes accessibility assessments of the outdoor environment, overnight accommodation, attractions, activities and offers for visitors including persons with disabilities, older persons and families with small children.

Designed and developed by accessibility and tourism experts, TGB Belgium, the ATDCP is a completely new destination management tool which provides an accurate measure of the excellence of an accessible tourism destination, based on strictly defined criteria.

The Accessible Destination Certification Programme involves assessment meetings with destination managers coupled with on-site audits and document analysis, thus building a picture of the capacity and level of achievement of the accessible destination.

Each element of the assessment is scored against a set of indicators, thus enabling managers to track the destination's performance over time and allowing for benchmarking across any number of destinations.

The Programme also provides a tailor-made Action Plan for destination managers, with priorities for improvements to be made in the different facets of the accessible destination.

The Action Plan aims to ensure that the destination will continue to develop and improve its offers to all visitors, giving them fulfilling, accessible experiences, whatever their interests and regardless of their age or abilities.

The TGB Accessible Tourism Destination Certificate is valid for two years, after which time it must be renewed through a re-assessment process.


Background

Logo of Accessible Destination LousãFollowing the first National Conference for Accessible Tourism, hosted by Lousã in April 2007, an idea was born to make the region of Lousã the first accessible tourist destination in Portugal.

Located in central Portugal, Lousã is known for the pristine beauty of the mountain Serra da Lousã, its rural "schist" villages, a long and colourful history, the local cuisine, adventure sports and several ideal health tourism assets.

The project "Destino de Turismo Acessível" was launched with the support of national and EU funding. In the early stages of the project in 2008, the Mayor of Lousã together with some employees made a study visit to the TGB Access Office in Hasselt in order to find inspiration in the work which had been done in Limburg and Flemish Brabant. This study visit also became the basis for developing a joint European project.

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