Schools Training

New Travel & Tourism Buzzwords: Inclusive, Accessible

26 MAR 2012
Career Path : Tourism Management

Study after study shows that baby boomers aspire to travel in retirement. As they hit retirement age, this “grey wave” could raise a new issue for the travel & tourism industry: accessibility.

Tourism business management teams around the world are finding innovative ways to make their products more accessible, but Swedish hotel chain Scandic has been recognized as a leader in the travel & tourism accessibility movement.

The tourism business management team of this hotel, which has facilities in the Nordic countries as well as elsewhere in Europe, has a disability ambassador, Magnus Berglund, who walks with a cane and uses a service dog. When his company acquires a hotel, they provide staff with accessibility training, teaching them to:

  • look for opportunities to offer guests with crutches or a cane a seat
  • make eye contact with guests who use interpreters

One wonders whether the design features that make the Scandic hotel chain remarkable in the travel & tourism industry will one day be commonplace – on the curriculum in most tourism courses, common knowledge for any tourism business management team.

Accessible features introduced by the Scandic tourism business management team include:

  • elevators that can be used by people in wheelchairs in case of fire
  • keyholes at wheelchair height
  • breakfast buffet tables that are accessible from a wheelchair
  • service dog welcome policy
  • a holder for canes in the reception
  • lowered reception desks to accommodates guests in wheelchairs
  • hearing loops for the hearing impaired at the reception and in meeting rooms (this feature, which is indeed becoming more common in the travel & tourism industry, broadcasts sound through waves and coils rather than simply depending on aids to amplify sound)
  • mirrors placed lower
  • wheelchair accessible hooks to hang things on
  • vibrating alarm clocks that also double as a fire alarm for the hearing impaired
  • information available in Braille
  • space around the bed for easier wheelchair navigation

The Nordic countries are not the only place taking action to make the travel & tourism industry more accessible.

  • tourism business management teams in Africa are now hosting safaris specifically for people with disabilities
  • the Barbados has accredited accessibility standards for travel & tourism facilities (including categories for wheelchair access, mobility challenge and the seeing impaired)
  • travel & tourism professionals on the island of Alcatraz brought in non-polluting electric tug tractors from airports to help visitors with low mobility access the site in a dignified, energy-efficient manner
  • the cruise ship market is catering to people with special needs (retrofitting, visual smoke detectors, accessibility brochures)
  • many travel & tourism destinations publish disability guides (in large font) for visitors, highlighting accessible bathrooms, nearby parking, etc.

The ageing population is forcing the travel & tourism industry to rethink accessibility. And tourism business management teams from around the world seem to be rising to the challenge.