Accessible tourism is about making it easy for everyone to enjoy tourism experiences. Making tourism more accessible is not only a social responsibility – there is also a compelling business case for improving accessibility as it can boost the competitiveness of tourism in Europe.
Evidence shows 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 the enjoyment of all tourists. It also improves the quality of life in local communities.
The European Commission is committed to increasing accessibility in tourism through a number of actions:
The EU is co-funding projects related to the design, implementation, and marketing of accessible tourism itineraries.
The main aims are to increase the travel opportunities available for people with special access needs, promote social inclusion, and improve the skills of staff in the industry.
A call for proposals was launched in 2013 to give potential projects the opportunity to apply for funding.
8 projects were selected for funding.
Tourism4All - based on an existing accessibility model, this project's objective is to develop the model including required standards for new services and packages for six itineraries in the Basque Country.
Fundación Instituto Gerontológico Matia-Ingema+ (Spain)
Info (53 kB)
Access for All - development and promotion of seven high quality accessible tourism itineraries in England (Access for All project 2014-2016).
Info (19 kB)
Accesstour – development of a complete framework of knowledge and tools on accessible tourism in Europe.
Comunità Montana Associazione dei Comuni Trasimeno - Medio Tevere (Italy)
Info (20 kB)
Smart Tourist Routes for Inclusive Groups (STRING) – creation of nine fully accessible itineraries in Italy (Piedmont Region), Spain (Ávila) and Bulgaria (Sozopol). These will be developed into comprehensive tourist packages.
CPD - Consulta per le Persone in Difficoltà ONLUS (Italy)
Info (269 kB)
Cosy4You – creation of a website and a mobile application (the 'C4Y' app) to disseminate information about accessible tourism in the Campania Region of Italy, starting with five different destinations.
Info (186 kB)
VIA REGIA - implementation and promotion of universal accessibility for the 'VIA REGIA' cultural route between Frankfurt/Main and Leipzig that combines eight destinations.
NETZ – media and society (Germany)
Info (13 kB)
EWB 'Europe Without Barriers' - creation of a network of organisations able to design, implement and promote itineraries accessible to all. More on the pilot EWB tourist package for all as it takes participants across Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Germany (Italian only).
SM Italia Scarl (Italy)
Info (20 kB)
Mobility Unesco Sustainable Tourism (MUST) - creation of a tour package including a tour of the four major world heritage UNESCO sites in Sicily that meet accessibility criteria (MUST Project website).
ERREQUADRO s.r.l. (Italy)
Info (22 kB)
2015 call for proposals: accessible tourism itineraries The second call for proposals for accessible tourism itineraries was published in April 2015. 8 projects were selected for funding. The implementation of projects started in June/July 2016 and will last for a period of 18/24 months.
|A.L.L.||Incipit Consulting Società Cooperativa (Italy)||Info + presentation|
|ALL Now||Italian Chamber of Commerce for Germany (Germany)||Info + presentation|
|ATTIMO||TANDEM, Società cooperativa sociale integrate (Italy)||Info + presentation|
|FRIENDLY BEACH||PA INCENTIVE srl (Italy)||Info + presentation|
|GW4ALL||Fundación de los Ferrocarriles Españoles (Spain)||Info + presentation|
|SABER Universal||COMUNE DI RIETI (Italy)||Info + presentation|
|VITIS 4 ALL||Comarca de Somontano de Barbastro (Spain)||Info + presentation|
|visits4u||Centre for Accessible Environments (United Kingdom)||Info + presentation|
A call for proposals for fostering accessible tourism entrepreneurship and management was published in August 2014. Four projects were selected for funding. The projects started in September/October 2015 and will last for a period of 18 months.
2014 call for proposals: Fostering accessible tourism entrepreneurship and management
|Project||Coordinator/lead partner||Project description|
|ACCENTGASTRONOMY||Universitat de Girona (Spain)||Info|
|BRENDAIT||Perfil - Psicologia e Trabalho, Lda (Portugal)||Info|
|REGION WITHOUT BARRIERS||Centrály Cestovního Ruchu-Jizni Morava zspo (Czech Republic)||Info|
|IDEAL-TOUR||Comune di Castiglione del lago (Italy)||Info|
The Commission rewards tourism businesses who make accessibility a leading aspect of their work. For example, the European Excellence Awards for Accessible Tourism, announced in June 2014, acknowledged the efforts of private enterprises and public authorities who have made significant efforts to increase the accessibility of their services and facilities to tourists with special needs.
The award service took place at the end of the conference, ‘Mind the Accessibility Gap: Rethinking Accessible Tourism in Europe’.
The Commission also organises many other events linked to key issues in Tourism.
The European Commission has developed Pantou which is the online database of European tourism suppliers who offer services for people with disabilities and other specific access requirements. It covers all aspects of the tourism value chain. The details of suppliers and their accessible services are displayed on an individual profile page. Both public and private enterprises may register free of charge.
According to the UN, an estimated 650 million people in the world live with disabilities. Together with their families, this means that approximately 2 billion people – a third of the global population – are directly affected by disability.
Many people have access needs, whether related to a physical condition (e.g. wheelchair users, visual or hearing impairments, allergies) or for other reasons. For example, older and less mobile people, or people with pushchairs have access needs that can become a huge obstacle when going on holiday.
For those people, travelling can be a real challenge. Finding information on accessible services, checking luggage on a plane, or booking a room with special access needs often proves to be difficult, costly, and time consuming.