Accessible Tourism: Everyone can benefit from an inclusive approach

Chris Veitch

Inclusive and accessible tourism, developed on the principles of universal design, ensures the maximum number of people, businesses and destinations benefit from travelling opportunities. Tourism is all about emotions: tourism operators want visitors to have amazing experiences – that ‘wow’ moment. By addressing accessibility it helps put customers at the heart of the visitor journey. This presentation will provide an update on inclusive tourism in Europe and UK, how to put customers at the heart of the visitor journey, and discuss tourism from a local development perspective.

As with all tourist destinations, the development process needs to be managed, as evidenced by the negative response of local communities to tourism in places such as Barcelona and Venice. Developing tourism along inclusive lines contributes to sustainability by improving the quality of life for local people who may otherwise encounter barriers and poor access to places and facilities. Policies and strategies at destination level need to be in place, but it also needs champions to promote the issues and solutions.

Inclusive and accessible development is not just a goal in itself, but a tool to help businesses and destinations achieve a range of business objectives, such as improving the quality of experience for everyone, and addressing issues of seasonality. There are six key elements of the customer journey – the value chain which needs to be accessible throughout to ensure a seamless journey: Information and Marketing (the push-pull factors); Booking processes; Travel to the destination; Getting around at the destination; and Recollection and Memory building that lead to recommendations and repeat visits.