One of the key challenges for Responsible Tourism is to broaden access. Responsible Tourism is about making holidays and travel for everyone more sustainable and using tourism to make better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit. The Responsible Tourism movement has addressed all forms of tourism and struggled to escape the tiny ecotourism niche.
Last year as part of World Responsible Tourism Day we looked at the business case for Taking Responsibility for Ensuring Access for All. You can download the highly informative presentations here.
But there are two distinct arguments for taking responsibility for increasing access for people with disabilities: there is an economic and a social case. The economic case is the business case, there is a market opportunity which includes all those who want to travel, visit or stay with a person with disabilities. It is a large market.
There is also a social case. In the Forest of Bowland a number of businesses have worked together to raise money for Trampers which enable walkers and mountain bikers to share the experience with the elderly and others with mobility challenges.
There is a clear social imperative for more inclusive forms of tourism, of enabling those with disabilities or very limited financial resources to have a holiday. Social Tourism includes
• Ensuring access for people with all kinds of disabilities
• Enabling those with limited financial resources to have a holiday, carers, families, the elderly
• Enabling local people and school children to see the wildlife, visit a cultural monument – in many destinations local people are excluded from the heritage sites visited by tourists
This social obligation is more widely recognised in mainland Europe than in Britain. On the continent people talk more readily about solidarity and social tourism is widely recognised.
This year at World Travel Market we have two session on widening access to tourism:
On Thursday at 11:00 Philippe Rossiter, CEO of the Institute of Hospitality is chairing a panel taking a hard look at whether the industry is doing enough and asking how much progress has the industry made? The panellists include David Stratton talking about the need for the industry to take responsibility and ensure access and three people explain what they’ve done and why: Magnus Berrglund, Scandic Accessibility Ambassador, Lynne Kirby, Managing Director, Enable Holidays and Blanca Cros i Moll talking about what has been done in Barcelona.
Disability is not the only issues and we are also looking at the importance of extending the services the industry offers to the economically disadvantaged.
On Tuesday at 14:00 Ian Reynolds of the Family Holiday Association (FHA) is chairing a panel which is addressing the question: Is Tourism Inclusive Enough? Asking is an annual holiday something which everyone should expect? In this panel the different assumptions in Europe about the right to an annual holiday are sure to emerge and we’ll see the different ways in which the industry rises, or not, to the challenge of making provision for everyone. The panellists include Charles-E.Bélanger, Director, Organisation Internationale du Tourisme Social (OITS), Luc Gobin, Head of the Tourism for All Department, Toerisme Vlaanderen, Fiona Harris, Director of PR & Brand Development, Kuoni Travel Limited and Thea Joldersma, Programme & Policy Manager, Family Holiday Association (FHA).
For more information surrounding these subjects take a look at what the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Tourism has been arguing and