Brussels Summit Works to Ensure Tourism Accessibility

By Boardroom editors

According to the World Health Organization, more than a billion people are living with some form of disability, such as reduced mobility. This factor is one that destinations and planners can easily take into consideration. It has become the rule that when planning an event, the destination and host venue should be accessible for all so that every attendee is treated equally and has the same experience.

Earlier this month, more than 400 people from 42 countries gathered at the second World Summit on Accessible Tourism in Brussels to learn about the advantages of committing to accessible tourism. They discussed topics that included destination management, hosting and security, accommodation, transport and mobility, and leisure products and activities. Sessions ranged from “Making Your Events and Facilities Accessible for Visitors Who are Blind” to “How to Combine Accessibility and Design — Do Right From the Beginning.”

Under the transport umbrella, planners looking for help ensuring an accessible event can turn to sites like Access-i, which uses colour coding and pictograms to rank a venue’s level of accessibility. Hotel chains like Sweden’s Scandic have incorporated accessibility measures into their policies, adding everything from mobile lifts — to allow wheelchair users to move between the bed and wheelchair — to mobility scooters for outdoor use. Companies like U.S.-based Open Taxis, meanwhile, have set up a centralised wheelchair-accessible taxi system with a mobile app.

Underscoring the accessibility theme, the 1-2 Oct. summit was at The Egg Conference and Meeting Center, a location known for its accessibility — the entire venue is on one level.

“Accessible tourism is first and foremost tourism for all,” world summit Co-President Vincent Snoeck said at the close of the two-day event. “We must be able to live the experience to the end — to live an emotion.”

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