As the world looks to bounce back from the impacts of the pandemic, ensuring accessibility for tourists with specific access requirements can be a real ‘game-changer’ for destinations and businesses and will help to recover from the crisis and grow back in a more inclusive and resilient way.

 New  Inclusive Recovery Guides from the World Tourism Organization, makes clear the importance of placing inclusivity at the center of recovery plans and provides key recommendations for achieving this. Launched on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the UNWTO Inclusive Recovery Guide is produced in partnership with the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT), the ONCE Foundation of Spain, and Travability from Australia.

Socio-Cultural Impacts of COVID-19: Issue I Persons with Disabilities, draws on the expertise of UNWTO’s Ethics Culture and Social Responsibility Department and its partners. While much progress has been made, the publication makes clear that persons with disabilities and seniors encounter barriers preventing them from fully enjoying tourism experiences, even more so during the pandemic. Now, as UNWTO leads the restart of tourism globally, this guide outlines steps that governments, destinations, and companies should take to build back better, becoming more inclusive and competitive.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism environments and services are often designed without considering the different access requirements that visitors and locals may have. The tourism sector must prioritize accessibility. This can be a real game-changer for destinations and businesses, helping them recover from the crisis and grow back in a more inclusive and resilient way.”

The recommendations advocating for accessibility during the recovery of tourism insist on six main action areas which are Assistance in a crisis, Adaptation of protocols, Inclusivity in post-pandemic tourism, Accessibility in business planning, Staff training and inclusion, Innovation, and digital transformation.

Including accessibility during every stage of repatriation, which requires the backing of destinations and disabled peoples’ organizations (DPOs).Following  UNWTO guidance on adapting general health and safety protocols, considering that customers may have different abilities and requirements.

The effective use of data to guide decisions on accessible tourism planning and adjusting accessibility policies and strategies to reflect post-COVID realities and Treating accessibility as a competitive advantage, improving customer service, and the application of harmonized international standards to enhance the quality of life for all

Extending professional training to better cater to tourists with different abilities, and ensuring equal opportunities in the tourism workforce, and Embracing innovation to make travel and tourism safer, smarter, and easier for all are the recommendations.

The guidelines are thematic briefs from UNWTO’s Ethics, Culture, and Social Responsibility Department that reflect UNWTO’s ongoing commitment to inclusive tourism, enshrined within The UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics, calling on signatories to facilitate tourism for persons with disabilities.

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