The increasing demand of leisure and cultural services by the segment of people with functional diversity requires tourist destinations to be prepared to provide this part of society with a service with guaranteed quality. Furthermore, due to this segment’s tourism behaviour, there is a great opportunity for tourist destinations to diversify and deseasonalise their activity, besides attracting a new market segment with a great growth potential. Therefore, the tourism for all market is growing due to both demographic changes and also the travel culture increase.
This year UNWTO has approved the Accessible Tourism Recommendations and as mentioned in the report, with 1 billion of international travelers in 2012, countries are increasingly developing tourism as part of their national development strategies as an effective driver of economic growth and inclusive development, creating jobs and wellbeing for communities.
According to the World Health Organization (2011) there are approximately 1 billion persons with disabilities in the world. This equates to approximately 15% of the world population having a physical, mental or sensory disability.
In addition to this data, a rapid ageing of the population is under way. In 2009 there were more than 730 million people over age 60, equivalent to 10% of the population, an increase of more than 20% since 2000. By the year 2050 the number of persons over age 60 will increase to account for 20% of the world population, with one-fifth of this group being over 80 years old.
According to the World Disability Report by WHO (2011), the increase in the number of older people will have an effect also in disability prevalence. The figure below shows that disability prevalence among people 45 years and older is higher among women than among men.
We should also take into account other publics that may benefit directly from universal design such as elder people, but also all people with reduced abilities for different reasons throughout their lives: people that usually carry baby carriages, pregnant women, people with some specific injury, chronic conditions, etc.
Therefore almost all society benefits directly from improvements made on accessibility and in this case from the development of an accessible tourism for all. In addition, once the tourism offer is improving the fitness to the requirements of people with functional diversity, and the travelling culture is growing, more and more tourists with accessibility needs are travelling.
Although the Basque Country through its Deputy Ministry of Tourism has already started to develop its strategy on Tourism for all within the “Accessibility Program of Tourism in Euskadi”, there is a lack of a model of reference on services related mostly to special needs of travelers regarding transport, cultural events and museums, natural tourism and also tourism based on experiences. Within this Tourism4All project those new services and needs will be taken into account to create a comprehensive model of reference that will allow to further develop the actual packages in the 5 itineraries already established and also to create a new itinerary in the Goierri area in the Basque Country.
The objectives of Tourism4All cover the main issues to create and commercialize a quality accessible tourism offer. The work that has been done during the last 6 years permits to put ambitious objectives:
- To complete and extend the Accessibility Standard of the tourism value chain. An Accessibility Standard for Tourism has been developed in the Basque Country that takes into account 5 functional diversities (physical, visual, hearing, intellectual and organic). The standard distinguishes the objective characteristics for each link of the value chain to offer a quality service to each functional diversity and permits to evaluate the fitness of each tourism facility and gives also a qualification in terms of the colors of traffic light. This Standard has been developed for some of the links of the value chain and it is necessary to extend to other 5 facility types in order to cover all the chain.
- To improve the skills of the professionals of the value chain. It is not possible to develop a Tourism offer for all if the professionals working in the value chain do not have the necessary skills both to improve the physical accessibility and to attend properly to people with different functional diversities. Training materials will be improved and adapted to every kind of professionals and training courses will be developed.
The theoretical part of training will be complemented with the practical one, since the establishment will receive a visit of an accessibility expert to do the accessibility audit with the baseline of the Standard created.
- To create tourism packages for people with different functional diversity. In this project we will work with six tourism destinations to create concrete tourism offer. Public and private cooperation will be guaranteed to cover all the value chain of the tourism experience. To achieve this objective the tourism attractiveness and accessibility level will be taken into account. Depending on the packages that will be design, it will be necessary to complete the information regarding the establishments and services of the value chain of each offer. At this point, accessibility diagnosis will be done, including training since it will be compulsory to be part of the packages.
- Promotion and commercialization of the offer. Once the tourism offer has been created in collaboration with the 6 destinations, promotional and commercialization actions will be developed:
- Identification, contact and promotion on standard commercialization channels: the main prescribers, fairs, travel agencies will be identified in order to introduce there this offer. This channels tend to reach general public and the objective is to normalize that any person could go to a standard promotional website, travel agency,… and find this offer giving equal opportunities to all.
- Identification, contact and promotion on specific commercialization channels: in order to reach directly the public that will most benefit from this offer, the main specialized prescribers, fairs, travel agencies, associations of elderly people, associations of people with functional diversity, … will be contacted to market this offer.
The Tourism4all project is a step towards creating an accessible consolidated tourism offer in the Basque Country. This project aims to provide reliable and complete information to people with disabilities who visit us.
The international analysis of best practices, the new models of accessibility that have been created, the training provided to resources and accessibility diagnostics made have allowed for the creation of six holiday proposals that have a wide and varied range in which all kinds of resources and activities are included in addition to a network of personal assistants and support product companies that make the travel experience pleasant and who do not have to worry about issues related to their own disability.
All people, regardless of their abilities, will have the opportunity to visit six representative destinations, beach, city, countryside and vineyards, with guarantees of quality, safety and comfort; this way you can visit the three capitals (Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vitoria), Zarautz, Goierri and Rioja Alavesa.
- Matia Institute
- Rioja Alavesa Wine Route
- San Sebastián-Donostia Tourism
- Zarauzko Tourism Bulegoa
- Goierri Turismoa
- Bilbao Ekintza Local State-Owned Enterpreise
- Azul Marino Travel
- Vitoria-Gasteiz Travel