For the more than one billion people in the world who live with some kind of disability, travelling can be a challenging affair. Recognizing the importance of removing unnecessary barriers to tourism, ISO has published a standard to help the industry make travel accessible to everyone.
ISO 21902, Tourism and related services – Accessible tourism for all – Requirements and recommendations, provides requirements and guidelines to facilitate equal access and enjoyment of tourism by people of all ages and abilities. This includes anyone who might face accessibility issues or have specific access requirements, such as those with disabilities and the elderly.
Requirements and recommendations
For Marina Diotallevi of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), who is also Convenor of the working group of experts that developed the standard, the lack of consistency and clarity across countries on how to make tourism facilities and services accessible continues to create barriers.
“These barriers are also often due to a lack of knowledge and training within the industry, which often means that well-meaning efforts go to waste,” she said.
“There is a distinct lack of guidance in the tourism sector on how to apply appropriate standards related to accessibility, and the standards that are in place often differ across countries or even within national borders of the same country.”
Jesús Hernández, the ISO 21902 Project Leader and Director of Universal Accessibility and Innovation at Fundación ONCE, added: “In some countries, there are no appropriate standards at all, leaving tourism providers without guidance on how to adapt their facilities and tourism offerings to cater to everyone. ISO 21902 is the first International Standard aimed at filling that major gap, thus improving accessibility across the whole tourism value chain.”
The new standard is intended to cater to anyone involved in, or touched by, tourism. This includes national tourism administrations and tourism boards, municipalities, and public entities in charge of infrastructural policies, development and legislative/regulatory frameworks. It will also benefit all travel and tourism businesses, such as tour operators and travel agencies, transport providers, accommodation facilities, hospitality and catering, as well as support players such as architects, ICT developers and, of course, the tourists themselves.
ISO 21902 was developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 228, Tourism and related services, whose secretariat is held by UNE, ISO’s member for Spain. It can be purchased from your national ISO member or the ISO Store.