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EU Study: Stronger Commitment Needed to Meet Growing Accessible Tourism Demand in Europe

A new study on the supply of accessible tourism services in the EU Member States, financed by the European Parliament, shows that there is a general lack of provisions for visitors with access needs.

Greater commitment and cooperation is needed between tourism authorities, destinations and enterprises, if supply is to meet the growing demand for accessibility, especially from increasing numbers of senior travellers, many of whom face access difficulties.

In Europe as a whole the study found that over 3 million tourism businesses are not prepared to cater adequately to the accessibility market. By 2020, an additional 1.2 million enterprises need to provide accessible services in order to accommodate the lowest forecasted demand. Thus, there is a strong rationale for targeted actions by policymakers to improve support structures and incentives that will foster the growth if accessible services and to market these services to travellers within Europe and those from other source markets.

The study gathered data from a wide range of sources, showing that an estimated 9% of Europe’s tourism services already have some level of provision for travellers with specific access needs. However, the distribution of accessible services is highly uneven across Europe.

On the positive side, the report shows that a number of leading destinations and “mainstream” suppliers are integrating accessibility measures into their products and services, enabling them to serve a wider market, thus making their business more sustainable over the long term.  

The “front-runner” countries, with the greatest numbers of accessible services, are France, Italy, Spain and the UK. These and other countries have invested not only in adapting and building accessible infrastructure but also in developing staff training schemes focusing on disability awareness and accessibility as part of customer service training. This, in turn, helps to give customers the confidence to travel with greater security, knowing that their needs will be met.


Lack of services for visitors with disabilities

The study has confirmed the general impression that where accessible services are offered, the vast majority of these address the needs of people with reduced mobility due to motor difficulties or impairments.

Visitors who have other access requirements, such as those who need services for people with low vision or reduced hearing or special diets, are under-served in the market.

Visitors with intellectual disabilities or learning difficulties are the least served of all customer groups.

Lack of services for these groups means that their travel choices are limited - but it also implies "lost" income to tourism providers. 


published on 

http://www.accessibletourism.org/?i=enat.en.press.1741

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