By Sabine Lehmann, Founder and Chair of Attractions Africa –

Access tourism highlights the basic human right of dignity and freedom for all travellers, a topic I recently became quite interested and researched in relation to attractions management. Whilst looking at best case studies, I found two fascinating articles in the Journal of Tourism Future – Accessible tourism futures: the world we dream to live in and the opportunities we hope to have and Stakeholder perspectives of the future of accessible tourism in New Zealand.

Here is a short summary of key things you need to know about Access Tourism:

Access Tourism is the future
The Journal of Tourism Future’s November 2015 edition focused on the future of access tourism- the right to freedom of travel. The nexus of an ageing population, increased disability issues and tourism opportunities will require a greater focus on access tourism.

Universal Design will become a standard requirement aiming to simplify life for all users from the aged, to disabled and mothers with prams. This will require collaboration across all stakeholders in the tourism industry so as to provide seamless access throughout the journey.

The right and freedom to travel – the future of access tourism

  • Access Tourism in numbers: 15% of people in the world live with disabilities and with an ageing population, demand for accessible tourism products will only increase even further. Yet less than 10% of tourism products and services cater for access tourism. There is nexus of an ageing population, increased disability issues and tourism opportunities.
  • The way forward: In the future, accessible tourism will be considered a human right as individuals insist on their right and freedom to travel. Universal Design (UD) is a design ethos that aims to simplify life for everyone from mobility disabled to families with push chair and should become the basic standard for all tourism services. As access tourism is only as strong as its weakest link; collaborative approach is required. A seamless industry wide- supply chain needs to be created.

What this means for our attractions
Access will be seen as a fundamental human right as the dignity of individuals and the freedom to travel becomes a non-negotiable.

Tourism’s full potential is squandered if access tourism is not catered for. The second paper from the November edition of Journal of Tourism Futures, highlights 5 keys themes that emerged from their research: accessibility as a human right, access tourism is good business, the market will lead with demand, and leadership is still apathetic about access market and collaboration is key to make access tourism work.

Keen to read the Journal of Tourism Future’s articles? Click here.