WTTC Introduces New Guidelines to Improve Accessibility in The Travel Sector

Published May 11, 2021

Accessibility for all to travel and tourism services and facilities should be a core element in any responsible national or international travel policy. Accessible travel involves collaboration among the government, travel agencies, airlines, hotels, end-users, and other stakeholders. Accessibility in travel benefits not just people with disabilities, but its impact also extends to the wider society and economy.

Common challenges for travelers with disabilities

Persons with disability may encounter a number of challenges during travel, which include but are certainly not limited to:

  • Inadequately-trained staff that is unable to address the customer’s accessibility issues or concerns
  • Inaccessible online as well as offline travel booking services
  • Lack of accessibility at airports and local transfer facilities
  • Poor availability of accessible and adapted hotel rooms, rest rooms, restaurants, and stores in tourist locations
  • Inaccessible streets, public places, and transportation services
  • Lack of information about accessible services, facilities, and equipment at travel and tourist destinations.

New global travel guidelines from WTTC

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) recently unveiled a set of new Inclusive & Accessible Travel Guidelines (PDF) to improve accessibility in the travel sector. The objective of these guidelines is to help make the travel sector more inclusive, while providing a safer and more comfortable experience to travelers and tourists with disabilities.

The WTTC prepared these guidelines using inputs from the corporations involved in the business of travel and tourism, private and government researchers, and disability experts. Some of the notable guidelines include:

  • Periodically train the staff on disability awareness and the most appropriate solutions to support travelers and tourists with disability.
  • Collaborate with travel and tourism related businesses to plug gaps in accessibility services, experience, and knowledge.
  • Foster a transparent and bias-free environment of respect at all locations as well as all travel and tourism related activities.
  • Monitor and incentivize the travel and hospitality staff to encourage behavior that makes customers with disability feel welcome and included.
  • Develop accessibility features at all travel points that are clear and easy-to-understand so that travelers with disability require minimal or no special assistance from the attending staff for their use.
  • Businesses related to travel and hospitality must proactively and regularly seek feedback from and involve travelers with disability while creating new accessible services and products in order to meet their requirements more effectively.
  • Businesses should incorporate appropriate accessibility features in the booking and reservations process that enables travelers with disability to independently engage/negotiate with the business and obtain all relevant information before they book their travel service.
  • Travel and hospitality staff should be empowered to resolve unique customer concerns on their own or in consultation with other team members where necessary.
  • Travel and tourism media, communication and marketing materials should be developed with an aim to dignify authentic representations of all people.
  • Wherever possible, travel businesses must engage with local governments and industry bodies, including disability organizations, to share visitor suggestions and feedback on accessibility and inclusion in order to widen the scope of more satisfactory traveler experiences in the future.

WTTC President and CEO, Gloria Guevara, summed up the new guidelines by saying that these will help travel and tourism businesses foster more accessible and inclusive environments, which is critical considering the fact that the travel sector is one of the most diverse in the world.

AccessibilityPlus 2022

Accessibility.com is proud of our role in promoting accessibility and equal access while recognizing there is much work to be done. As we welcome a new year in 2022, we have opened registration for AccessibilityPlus 2022, which will feature monthly events dedicated to promoting actionable solutions in implementing accessibility initiatives. Registration is limited. For more information about the conference, speakers, and topics, please visit our AccessibilityPlus Event Calendar.

Registration for our third annual event, Before You Spend Another Penny: Bake Accessibility into Your Procurement Process, is now available at no cost for Accessibility.com viewers for a limited time.