Accessible tourism is about making it easy for all people to enjoy tourism experiences.
According to the UN, an estimated 650 million people in the world live with disabilities. Together with their families, that means approximately 2 billion people are directly affected by disability, representing almost a third of the world’s population.
Many people have access needs, whether or not related to a physical condition (e.g. wheelchair users, visual, hearing impairment, allergies). For example, older and less mobile people or people with pushchairs have access needs, which can become a huge obstacle when going on holiday.
For those people, travelling can be a real challenge, as finding the information on accessible services, checking luggage on a plane, booking a room with special access needs often prove to be difficult, costly and time consuming.
An under-served market
Making tourism more accessible is a social responsibility, but also a compelling business case to boost the competitiveness of tourism in Europe.
The European population is aging: by 2050 the number of people over 65 will be 3 times what it was in 2003, and the over 80s will be 5 times greater in number. These figures represent a huge market potential which today remains vastly under-served.
Worldwide, there are 600 - 900 million people with disabilities, representing a significant potential market for Europe.
Many examples show that making basic adjustments to a facility, providing accurate information, and understanding the needs of disabled people can result in increased visitor numbers.
Improving the accessibility of tourism services increases their quality and their enjoyment for all tourists, as well as improving quality of life in the local communities.
The European Commission is committed to increasing accessibility in tourism by:
- raising awareness among stakeholders and economic operators in the tourism sector
- issuing a call for tender to gather knowledge about the demand and behavioural profile of travellers with special access needs, and assess the economic impact of accessible tourism
- carrying a study to identify options for improving the range of accessible tourism services . As part of the study, a survey to gather information from tourism businesses on their own experiences in providing accessible tourism facilities and services has been launched. A similar survey aims at gathering information from travellers on their own experiences.
- issuing a call for tender for improving dedicated skills in the sector
- improving information on accessible tourism for disabled people [2 MB]
- supporting social tourism - Calypso