1. Destinations for All
Accessible Destinations - how they are organised, developed, managed and marketed - are at the heart of this World Summit. We look forward to presentations that explain the processes which have led to successful accessible destinations where businesses have opened up to the diversity of travellers and have built a reputation for consistent, high quality services for all their guests. Under this theme, participants are encouraged to consider the dynamics between different actors and stakeholders which lead to positive outcomes for the community and its visitors. Contributions from the public, private and NGO sectors will demonstrate how destinations build expertise and know-how, enabling them to attract and cater for new customers in a growing but also discerning market.
1.1 Managing Accessible Destinations
Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) play a key role in coordinating and laying the foundations for local, regional and national tourism offers. The large majority receive public funding and are seen as prime movers in the implementation of tourism policies. The need for managers to show a high return on investment (ROI) can be just as high here as in the private sector.
This theme will:
- Showcase and discuss world-class examples of successful strategies for accessible destinations and their planning approaches.
- Identify the tools and methods used by DMOs for taking the lead on accessibility - how to engage local businesses and the wider community to change the mindset, create and deliver new products to the accessible tourism market.
- Present and discuss indicators and methods for assessing the 'accessible welcome' shown by destinations, measured across the value chain.
- Discuss how social media and new forms of advertising and promotions can help build the reputation and success of destinations and enterprises that make their offers accessible for all.
- Examine the planning trajectories of destinations which organise major world sporting events and the "legacies" they leave in terms of accessibility.
1.2 Understanding and Developing Inclusive Tourism Products
Travellers vary enormously in their physical capabilities and their holiday patterns reflect that diversity. Whether that holiday is climbing a Himalayan peak, walking New Zealand's Milford Track, visiting the wine region of the Napa Valley or relaxing on a Caribbean island: that is a personal choice. The tourism industry is adept at discerning and catering to those wide ranges of choices, however, we have categorized a disability, through medical and now social models, as something different, and around that have built a set of preconceptions that shields it from a market view.
This theme will focus on:
- Understanding the great diversity in the capabilities of travellers with a disability.
- Understanding the aspirations of travellers with a disability.
- Developing a knowledge of technological and equipment solutions that are available for rooms, sport, leisure, dining and entertainment.
- Looking at facilities and paths of access from a customer point of view (which may be different from compliance with legal requirements).
- Looking at procedures for check-in, luggage handling, check-out and resort booking.
- Developing an understanding that the traveller with a disability is often the group or family leader, not a passive observer.
- Understanding that the total group is the unit that needs to be catered to as a "shared" experience, and not just creating a "special" experience for the individual with a disability.
- The growing trend of diversity in employment and the implications for the global Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Events market (MICE), including the implications for accommodation, presentation and breakout rooms, social activities, field trips/familiarisation tours and conference extensions.
1.3 Information and Marketing
Before undertaking travel outside of their region of residence, people with disabilities will want to ensure their ability to get to the destination as well as stay there and dine. Accurate information on a destination is therefore of primary importance to individuals with disabilities, and we thus welcome contributions on the following points:
- The level to which individuals with disabilities and their family and friends are informed on the services they are being offered.
- The accuracy of the accessibility information provided, and the means to improve it.
- Incorporating accessibility information into mainstream information at the destination.
- The technological tools best suited for distributing information on the accessible services offered to the disabled.
- Branding, access labelling and marketing of accessible destinations, where trusted, reliable and detailed information are crucial to the visitor's planning decisions.
- The role of each destination to make available any information on the accessibility of its establishments and services, also in accessible and alternative formats.
- The role of the media in the distribution of information on a destination's accessibility.
- The use of imagery and multi-media to change the perceptions of travellers with a disability and to encourage and welcome visitors.
2. Accessibility in the Tourism Value Chain
2.1 Good Practices in Customer Service
Beyond the physical layout of venues and buildings, quality of service is paramount in all aspects of the tourism industry.
This theme will identify and discuss examples, case studies, policies and best practices, including:
- Training requirements for managers and front-line personnel in terms of welcoming and serving travellers with disabilities.
- Training requirements for product development managers on the needs and aspirations of travellers with a disability.
- Examples of disability and access awareness training that have been built into continuing professional development for managers and personnel.
- Share ways to replace the stigma of "special needs" with the attitude that all clients are unique guests.
- Evaluate if vocational, collegiate and university programs in the field of tourism adequately prepare professionals to deal with travellers with disabilities.
- Demonstrate the return on investment from training.
- Evaluate the possibility of establishing service norms, for example, for restaurants.
- Share best practices in customer service in tourism, culture and transportation sectors.
- Identify measures that could facilitate the participation of people with disabilities and others with specific access requirements in tourist and cultural activities.
- Identify the follow-up measures to complaints.
2.2 Involving Small and Medium-sized Tourism Businesses
The tourism industry is comprised of many small businesses: B&Bs, restaurants, cafés, equipment rental companies, tourist guides, boutiques, attractions, etc.
These businesses are dynamic, dedicated and at times fragile. They are at the heart of a destination's tourism appeal; they play a key role in welcoming visitors, creating vibrant experiences and lasting memories. Yet for most of them, knowing why and how to make their business accessible and profitable is unexplored territory.
In this theme, we wish to address:
- Ways to involve small and medium-sized businesses in developing a destination's universal accessibility.
- The best way to communicate with these businesses.
- The message to compel them to get on board.
- The incentives that would encourage private businesses to develop their accessibility for people with disabilities.
2.3 Joining up the Supply Chain
Historically, inclusive tourism advocacy and development has been aimed at the infrastructure owners. The anti-discrimination legislation around the world targets the same group. Those infrastructure providers are hotel and resort owners, attractions, coach and bus companies, train operators and airlines.
Unfortunately, travel and tourism is not sold that way and seldom do individual purchasers put their holidays together individually on a piece-by-piece basis. The one exception tends to be the disabled traveller, who is forced to go to the source due to lack of information available through the distribution channels.
- Developing a regional inclusive tourism value proposition.
- Defining the role of tourism boards and marketing authorities.
- Involving tourism wholesalers and consolidators in the packaging of inclusive tourism products.
- Building inclusive options for regional itineraries and involving tour operators to include those options and schedule inclusive hardware into their planning.
- Ensuring airlines and airports servicing a region are aware of the importance of inbound inclusive tourism and offer support services and transport links.
- Working with the major global distribution systems to develop codes to enable booking throughout the travel supply chain.
- Developing expertise through training and familiarisation programs for the retail travel sector, including the major online and traditional agencies through centres of excellence for inclusive tourism.
3. The Built Environment: Urban Planning, Architecture and Design for All
The United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilitiesbinds States to take appropriate measures to:
"a) Develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public;
b) Ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities."
Barrier-free access should not be limited to buildings and their exterior layouts, but must be implemented within the whole venue or destination. In order to promote inclusion everywhere, decision makers need to support the practice of Universal Design and the application of accessibility standards. There must be new initiatives and measures to put access firmly in the curricula of design education, legislation, public procurement and conformity assessment.
Presentations are invited on the following sub-themes
3.1 Promoting Access and Inclusion through Legislation and Design Standards
Legislation and standards are seen by some as the definitive answer to achieving accessibility for all. But how are standards defined and to what extent does legislation support the use of standards?
In this theme we will discuss:
- Policies and legislative initiatives from around the world, requiring accessibility to public buildings and environments, their time-frames and implementation strategies.
- Experiences of specific measures and/or legislation for incorporating accessibility requirements in public procurement, design, construction and conformity assessment procedures.
- Experiences of applying accessibility standards for the built environment in different countries and regions of the world.
- Standardisation as a common language to understand and implement accessibility.
3.2 Applying the Universal Design (UD) Approach
Advances in UD/Design for All: another way of thinking, understanding and designing for human needs.
In this theme we will:
- Compare urban planning models that explicitly take UD into account to achieve a barrier-free environment.
- Present examples of good practice in urban planning, with particular reference to tourist venues and access for visitors.
- Present and discuss examples of UD in public buildings for common use.
- Identify examples of UD in specific-use buildings, tourism and leisure facilities.
- Showcase the UD approach in aeroplane cabins, cruise ships, other passenger vessels, yachts, etc.
- Examine the current status of education and training programs for architects and urban planners in accessibility-related issues, in different regions and countries.
3.3 Hotels and Other Tourist Accommodation
Because tourist accommodation is fundamental to the tourism chain, providing many crucial functions for the visitor, in this theme we will pay particular attention to hotel design.
- Discuss norms for the percentage or room ratios, layout and features of rooms for people with disabilities (or "adapted rooms") in different countries.
- Learn about the practices and experience of hotels in terms of number, availability and occupancy rates of rooms designed for people with disabilities or universally designed rooms.
- Show how UD or Design-for-All affects the layout and installations of guest rooms, bathrooms and other facilities, and discuss possible implications for construction norms and practices.
- Consider the role of quality and star ratings in making accommodation establishments more accessible.
- Identify the level of information, services and amenities that should be provided as standard for guests with sensory impairments.
- Discuss systems and security measures for assisting people with disabilities in case of emergencies and evacuations.
4. Inclusion in Outdoor Environments
Travellers with disabilities are eager to incorporate outdoor activities into their travels, particularly those shared with other groups of tourists.
This theme will include areas such as destination management, including service provisions, facilities, equipment, adapted activity programs and information, as well as Built Environment and Environmental Design Standards.
- Share successful initiatives that have been carried out in camping, nature excursions, hiking, beach access, hunting, fishing, etc.
- Identify the main principles and norms that should be applied to different outdoor activities.
- Evaluate whether the funding agencies leverage their public fund-raising efforts to promote accessible tourism and leisure.
- Identify what adapted equipment is necessary for access to outdoor activities. (i.e. adapted all-terrain vehicles, beach wheelchairs, pool lifts, etc.).
- Public and private parks that have taken several initiatives to support visits that are adapted to the special needs of people with disabilities.
- Present and analyse the impacts of prevailing standards for disabled-access visits to public parks.
- Show how visitors can have a richer sensory experience of outdoor environments and venues.
- Demonstrate the means by which theme parks and leisure parks provide a welcoming and inclusive experience for all visitors.
- Present and discuss standards, guidelines and management tools for outdoor recreation: Buildings, facilities, environments, services and information.
5. Technology and Tourism
Making a trip can entail a wide range of interconnected journeys and steps, which can be planned entirely either before embarking on the trip or during the trip. All aspects of the visitor journey can be enhanced by incorporating information and communication technologies, thus securing benefits for the services offered, for the general user and, in particular, for users with disabilities.
Visual, audio and tactile information can be used to inform and guide visitors, and to enrich the experience of attractions, performances and events. Smart devices and applications using mobile networks with high speed data connections are opening up a seemingly endless range of possibilities for the traveller.
One of the advantages of having access to information services which are responsive to the traveller during the whole course of the processes involved in the trip is the ability to react in the face of unforeseen circumstances.
In this theme we will discuss:
- Developments using 'big data' to deliver real-time information in 'smart cities', providing enhanced information, convenience and safety to service providers, local citizens and visitors - and ensuring that these services are accessible for all.
- How to ensure that Web technologies, content and services are accessible for all users: development strategies, tools and methods.
- On-board information services, communications and entertainment - in aeroplanes, trains, maritime and urban transport - offering added value, comfort and safety to passengers with reduced mobility, visual or hearing impairments or learning difficulties.
- Technology support for implementing emergency and evacuation procedures, especially considering the needs of persons with disabilities.
- Orientation / way-finding systems for pedestrians in environments such as airports and train stations - finding ticket offices, boarding points, routes to follow, passenger information messages, or locating available services.
- Uses of geo-localisation, automated notification systems and other supports when travelling.
- Design and placement of accessible self-service terminals including ATMs, check-in machines, internet points, ticketing machines, vending machines, information booths.
- Advances in smart, accessible technologies in hotels and restaurants.
- Audio guides and video guides for visitors who are blind or deaf, or with learning difficulties.
6. International Standardization for Accessible Tourism
This theme will examine how international accessibility standards can improve tourism services, products, transport and environments.
We will discuss:
- How to ensure that travellers with disabilities can determine whether a destination is accessible for their specific needs and that they will be able to participate in activities and visits: to travel, sleep, eat and enjoy the destination, safely and with ease and comfort.
- International norms for information about accessible tourism requirements and provisions, based on common parameters and how to incorporate these in business practices.
- Standards for curricula and training in accessibility issues.
- Conformity assessment schemes and verification procedures that can support international standards for accessible tourism.
- The methods and requirements which can lead to a universally recognised certification system for accessible destinations.