Accessible travel discussed with UNWTO and ONCE Foundation at FITUR 2016

Juan Giron

Global Corporate Communications Manager, Amadeus

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More than 80 million people in Europe have a disability, according to the ONCE Foundation, a Spanish organisation dedicated to ensuring the social inclusion of people with disabilities, and an estimated 35 million have given up on travelling due to lack of accessible travel products and services.

Making travel available to all was at the heart of discussions during the ‘Accessible travel: a strategic bet for business’ at FITUR 2016. Organised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the ONCE Foundation, this event gathered leading players from both public and private sectors in the field of accessibility.

Jesús Hernández Galán, Director, Universal Accessibility and Innovation, at the ONCE Foundation, outlined the clear ROI of accessible travel. He said that the European travel industry is failing to cash in on an estimated €142 billion by not providing accessible infrastructure, accommodation, and adapted offers to this market niche.

Accessibility has been included as a priority to facilitate travel for the UNWTO. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the UNWTO, explained the importance of this aspect in the UN agenda.

UNWTO's Taleb Rifai on accessible travel initiative

Amadeus is working closely with the UNWTO and the ONCE Foundation to advance accessible travel. As a technology provider, Amadeus has been at the forefront of making travel more accessible through its e-Retail booking platform, which complies with the more strict Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0). Promoting this discussion should be supported by the industry as a whole. Juan Jesús García, Senior Advisor, Industry Affairs, Amadeus, explained the possible lines of action.

Amadeus' Juan Jesús García on accessible travel

The way ahead includes all sectors working together to implement the required measures to achieve inclusive tourism. Márcio Favilla, Executive Director of the UNWTO, commented on the need to work on accessible travel and the accessibility guidelines they have developed to facilitate the process.

UNWTO's Marcio Favilla on accessibility and partnership with Amadeus