Summary: "Mapping skills and training needs to improve accessibility in tourism services"



Mapping occupation, skills needs and training content


1. Accessible tourism training should take into account the context of training, the

trainee's prior qualifications, knowledge and experience, the level of the training to be

delivered and visitors' specific access requirements.

2. If a visitor experience is to be truly accessible then all elements of the supply chain or

customer journey must be accessible. As a result, a person's place in the tourism

value chain is less important for determining skills and training needs than the role that

this person fulfils in the business.

3. Thus, skills needs and training provision must differentiate between different skills

levels (basic, in-depth) and different occupational roles (Managers with / without

customer contact, frontline staff, others (including technical specialists).

4. Training content and learning outcomes should include Knowledge of disabilities /

types of disability and access requirements, Barriers to accessibility & Design for All,

Strategic development of accessibility in business, Principles of effective customer

service, Proper etiquette for dealing with PwD, Recognising and responding

appropriately to people using personal supports and Service animals and assistive


5. There are wide differences in accessible tourism content in mainstream tourism and

hospitality training curricula across the EU.

6. On the whole, the level of awareness and qualifications of tourism services providers

is inadequate to address the needs of people with disabilities. There is an urgent need

to promote an understanding of accessibility before it is possible to persuade

businesses to take up training.

7. Existing training is overwhelmingly directed towards continuing vocational educational

training (VET). Current training provisions are often provided on a non-permanent

basis or reach too few individuals to have an effective impact on the accessible

tourism services.

8. Overall, NGOs are the most active organisations delivering accessibility training for

businesses across Europe. NGOs have developed the training in partnership with

tourism organisations, tourism boards or businesses in order to feed in the sector


9. The standard methods of delivering formal training are online and traditional

classroom-based training. Some training providers1 have developed "blended-learning

programme" or "b-learning". Direct involvement with people with disabilities during

training has the greatest level of impact and duration. However, it is also indirectly

mentioned as a barrier for businesses to take up the training.

10. A majority of courses are directed to frontline staff. However, there is a recognition that 

it is important to reach managers for the training to have a more long-lasting impact. 

11. Most training introduces introductory-level skills as business conditions often require a 

fast delivery of training which is focused on giving results in the daily work of every 

staff member.

12. Motor and sensory impairments rank among the accessibility requirements most often 

addressed in the training.

Existing demand for accessible tourism training

13. SMEs in the tourism sector make less use of formal training than large enterprises -

whether for managers or staff - due to limited financial resources, limited time and 

difficulties in accessing training courses locally. Informal training and "on the-job" 

experiences are important tools to enhance staff skills among SMEs.

14. Thus, training should not be limited to structured and top-down approaches to learning

and may take the form of "awareness raising" which is less formal and has broader 

appeal to SMEs.

15. While a number of certificates in accessibility training exist across Europe, these do 

not give academic credits and most qualifications are not recognised in the wider 

tourism sector. 

16. In several Member States there is growing awareness of the importance of the 

accessibility market. Awareness may be influenced by government anti-discrimination 

policies or accessibility may be adopted is part of the strategic development of a 

country's or region's tourism products. The maturity of a tourism destination does not 

seem to have any bearing on the availability of courses or the uptake of accessibility. 

Gaps in training provision and the role of EU projects

17. Key gaps in the existing training landscape include a gap in the actual 

availability/provision of training, a gap in the development of the business case for 

training and a gap in evaluating the impact of training on customers, staff and 


18. The role of EU-projects to remedy the gap in the availability of accessible tourism 

training has so far been rather limited. EU funded projects have focused on 

establishing a basic understanding about the target of training initiatives, the main 

actors who need to be trained (management, staff and different occupational roles) 

and appropriate training tools, methods and curricula. The main achievement of most 

of these projects lies in the awareness raised among the participants and the relevant 


19. At the same time, EU projects so far have suffered from low transferability and weak 

dissemination. Accordingly their efforts have not been exploited in a coordinated way. 

The widespread lack of continuity or uptake of training suggests some projects were 

not sufficiently embedded in the tourism sector at an institutional level. Many of these 

EU funded projects were pilot projects with very few participants.

Drivers of supply/demand for training

20. Key factors that influence the supply of training provisions are tourism policy and

legislation. In those Member States where accessibility has a strategic role in the

development of tourism products there seem to be a higher number of available

training courses. Legislation seem to encourage the proliferation of training courses

(as well as uptake), at least where this legislation is being properly enforced.

21. The greatest barrier to training is the lack of awareness of accessibility and the lack of

a convincing business case for accessibility training. Tourism businesses have little

incentive to engage in training for accessibility when this is a poorly understood

market. The challenge seems to consist in making a convincing business case for

training, structuring the market (demand and supply) for training and spreading

awareness of successful business practices by peers.

22. A top-down process of awareness for accessibility seems to favour provision of

training courses. Business and trade associations must be fully integrated in efforts to

develop an accessible tourism business case.

23. Key actors within organisations such as tourism boards, but also individual businesses

or service providers can act as "champions", actively promoting training as an integral

part of accessibility strategies.


24. There is a strong case for a recognised European certificate in the area of Accessible

Tourism. The field is still sufficiently "young" for such a transferable qualification to be

developed, yet without one, different national variations may appear, which could

entail difficulties in the coming years regarding mutual recognition in different EU

Member States.

25. Development of such a standard would help address both supply side barriers (by

providing a structure to the market for accessible training provision) and some of the

demand side challenges (by defining accessible tourism skills as a transferrable and

recognised skill).

26. The standard would not require the design of specialised accessible tourism training

modules. Rather, the required skills (as defined in section 3 of his report) could be

integrated into existing tourism qualification. This would certainly be the case for the

basic skills per occupational group defined in section 3 with more in-depth training

being provided in separate modules focused exclusively on accessible tourism

27. A full list of recommendations is presented in section 7 of the full report which is at:

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