Accessible tourism is about making it easy for everyone to enjoy tourism experiences. Making tourism more accessible is not only a social responsibility – there is also a compelling business case for improving accessibility as it can boost the competitiveness of tourism in Europe.
Evidence shows that making basic adjustments to a facility, providing accurate information, and understanding the needs of disabled people can result in increased visitor numbers.
Improving the accessibility of tourism services increases their quality and the enjoyment of all tourists. It also improves the quality of life in local communities.
The European Commission is committed to increasing accessibility in tourism through a number of actions.
Accessible tourism itineraries
The EU is co-funding projects related to the design, implementation, and marketing of accessible tourism itineraries.
The main aims are to
- increase the travel opportunities available for people with special access needs
- promote social inclusion
- improve the skills of staff in the industry
2015 call for proposals: accessible tourism itineraries
The second call for proposals for accessible tourism itineraries was published in April 2015. 8 projects were selected for funding.
2014 call for proposals: fostering accessible tourism entrepreneurship and management
A call for proposals for fostering accessible tourism entrepreneurship and management was published in August 2014. 3 projects were selected for funding.
2013 call for proposals: accessible tourism itineraries
A call for proposals was launched in 2013 to give potential projects the opportunity to apply for funding.
8 projects were selected for funding.
Studies on accessible tourism
- Supply of accessible tourism services in Europe - presents extensive data on the availability and performance of accessible tourism services in EU countries. Related resources:
- PANTOU: European accessible tourism directory – a free online register for accessible tourism providers in all areas of the value chain
- Case studies of accessible tourism destinations – identifying good practice and weak areas
- Economic impact and travel patterns: accessible tourism (6 MB) – examines demand for accessible tourism by assessing its economic impact, as well as the demographic evolution and travel patterns of travellers with special access needs
- Skills and training needs to improve accessibility (1 MB) – appraises the competences that tourism employees need to improve accessibility
Awards and events
- European excellence awards for accessible tourism: 2014 – to acknowledge the efforts of private enterprises and public authorities who have increased the accessibility of their services and facilities to tourists with special needs
- 'Mind the accessibility gap' conference – rethinking accessible tourism in Europe
According to the UN, an estimated 650 million people in the world live with disabilities. Together with their families, this means that approximately 2 billion people – a third of the global population – are directly affected by disability.
Many people have access needs, whether related to a physical condition (e.g. wheelchair users, visual or hearing impairments, allergies) or for other reasons. For example, older and less mobile people, or people with pushchairs have access needs that can become a huge obstacle when going on holiday.
For those people, travelling can be a real challenge. Finding information on accessible services, checking luggage on a plane, or booking a room with special access needs often proves to be difficult, costly, and time consuming.