The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published the world’s first standard on accessible tourism, ISO 21902 Tourism and related services – Accessible tourism for all – Requirements and recommendations. This is an international standard offering guidelines to ensure access and enjoyment of tourism for all on an equal basis.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Fundación ONCE and UNE (Asociación Española de Normalización) led the development of this pioneering, cross-cutting standard on an international level, focusing on accessible tourism throughout the whole value chain of the tourism sector.
This is a business that in the European Union represents a potential market of 80 million persons, or 130 million if companions are included. Moreover, the market is growing considering the population pyramid in many European countries, and this is also the case for other parts of the world. On average, persons with disabilities spend 30% more (800 EUR per trip as opposed to 600 EUR), according to UNWTO.
This standard is available in Spanish as UNE-ISO 21902, having been translated and included in the UNE national catalogue of standards. It addresses service providers and tourism operators as well as public administrations and tourism destinations.
The UNE-ISO 21902 standard establishes requirements and recommendations for accessible tourism. For example, in order for a beach to be considered accessible, it must offer showers, toilets and a route that can be used by all. Also, accessible pedestrian routes in a natural environment must provide, amongst other requirements, a continuous, firm and stable floor and signalling and must offer details on the itinerary before the start of the route. In general, in their written communications, tourism establishments must use clear and simple language following a logical sequence, with images and graphic symbols where appropriate, and with contrasting colours and easy-to-read fonts.
It is hoped that the standard will become a key tool for enforcing the right of everyone to enjoy tourism and leisure. In spite of advances over recent decades, in many countries, there is still much to be done before the tourism sector takes into account the needs of the more than 1 billion persons with disabilities in the world.
Because of the way in which environments, infrastructure and a wide range of tourism services have been conceived, tourists with disabilities often face challenges starting from the actual planning of their trip and including their experience in the destination. This standard aims to trigger change.
Throughout 2021 and 2022, UNWTO, Fundación ONCE and UNE, together with experts, will hold an awareness campaign addressing their members and associates to stress the harmonization of accessible tourism on a global scale by means of standards.
This worldwide standard was developed by the International Standardization Committee ISO/TC 228 on Tourism and related services, in which UNWTO coordinated working group WG14 bringing together 85 experts from more than 35 countries and five relevant organizations in this area who were responsible for the drafting. Fundación ONCE held the technical leadership and UNE provided the secretariat and coordinated with ISO.