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UNWTO is convinced that the facilitation of tourist travel by persons with disabilities is a vital element of any responsible and sustainable tourism development policy. In this spirit of mainstreaming disability issues, the Organization’s General Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/492(XVI) in 2005, entitled “Accessible Tourism for All”. Featuring a series of recommendations to the sector, it highlighted the necessity of providing clear information on the accessibility of tourism facilities, the availability of support services in destinations for persons with disabilities, and the training of employees on the special needs of these individuals. The document, prepared with the help of experts provided to the Organization by the Spanish ONCE Foundation, updated the 1991 resolution A/RES/284(IX), “Creating Tourism Opportunities for Handicapped People in the Nineties.”
In October 2009, UNWTO again underscored the importance of accessibility with the Declaration on the Facilitation of Tourist Travel, approved by its General Assembly in Astana, Kazakhstan. Of a purely recommendatory nature, it advises that “great efforts should be made to ensure that tourism policies and practices are inclusive of persons with disabilities.” The declaration calls upon states to ensure the accessibility of tourism establishments, the availability of special facilities for persons with disabilities at no additional cost, the publication of detailed information on the availability of such services and the special training of tourism staff. It further endorses the general principles enshrined in Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and invites all States to implement them.
In 2011, UNWTO is planning to carry out several activities with external partners in the field of accessibility, including the development of guidelines, indicators, benchmarking and training to make tourism destinations accessible for persons with disabilities (650 million people worldwide). On the 16th of September 2011, a trilateral framework agreement was signed between UNWTO, Fundación ONCE and ENAT (the European Network for Accessible Tourism), involving building on the Resolution on Accessible Tourism for All, providing advice on policy-making, awareness-raising, producing guidelines, and embarking on training and capacity building projects, especially via the UNWTO.Themis Foundation, as well as the labour insertion of persons with disabilities into UNWTO.
Image: 2011 Memorandum of Understanding signed between the ONCE Foundation, UNWTO and ENAT. From left to right: Alberto Duran López, Executive Vice President of the ONCE Foundation, Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General, and Lilian Müller, President of ENAT.
Relevant Articles on Tourism and Accessibility
Resolutions on Accessibility