Tourism for All Congress, Avila
The IV International Congress on Tourism for All organized by the ONCE foundation, took place in Avila from the 26th to the 28th of June. I was here to represent Accessible Travel Netherlands and ENAT. Approximately 200 people attended the event to present, promote and network with other people intereste d in tourism for all. Tourism for all is currently the term that is used by the majority of organizations involved with tourism for all.
The term implies that tourism is inclusive, while accessible tourism points directly to people with disabilities. During the conference seminars where held about destinations for all, design for all, ICT development related to ICT, standardization and research. Attendees came from all kinds of countries, even outside of the European borders. A representative form Colombia was present as well as Ibrahim Abu-Helis from Jordan. These people came to the congress to represent and develop accessible tourism in their country. The congress was especially interesting for people with less experience or knowledge about accessible tourism, since lots of speakers gave information about best practices and guidelines. An interesting development is the increase of use of apps for providing accessibility information about destinations.
Wheelmap.org is an example that has been online for a couple of years, but France has also developed such a website called www.handistrict.com which is very similar to the Dutch website Ongehinderd.nl. Also, a number of destinations are providing information on the National Tourism website. However, the majority of destinations can learn from the minority. One of the ENAT (European Network for Accessible Tourism) projects called eAccess+ focuses on development of such programs and websites that are accessible and/or offer accessibility information. The best part of the conference was the video by the general secretary of the UNWTO emphasizing the importance of tourism for all, which was shown in a Youtube video. This video recognized the hard work of all people working in the field of tourism for all and it encouraged the new attendees to continue their work. This video and all presentations will be posted as soon as all documents have been published. At last, the conference was organized in Avila, Spain. This city was recognized as most accessible European city in 2011.