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The First UNWTO Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

unwto-accessible-tourismThe First UNWTO Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe addressed how to advance quality, sustainability and competitiveness in accessible tourism with a special focus on cultural heritage and the use of smart technologies.

Achieving universal accessibility throughout the tourism value chain is the main call for action of the San Marino Declaration of Accessible Tourism, adopted at the First UNWTO Conference on Accessible Tourism in Europe (San Marino, 19-20 November 2014).

“Accessible Tourism for All ranks high amongst the ethical challenges we have identified and which require our permanent attention and guidance”, said the Chairman of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics, Pascal Lamy, opening the Conference. ”Advocating for and advancing universal access in travel and tourism is both a question of rights and a question of ethics, a matter of quality and respect, of freedom and non-discrimination”, he added.

Echoing the legitimate right of access to tourism activities by people with disabilities, as established by the United Nations, the San Marino Declaration on Accessible Tourism was adopted unanimously, calling for all stakeholders to ensure universal accessibility in all the components of the tourism value chain. This includes the physical environment, the transportation system and information and communications channels, as well as to strengthen and engage public-private partnerships and other forms of cooperation among entities working in the field of universal accessibility.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai stressed that “People with disabilities and special needs should be able to actively take part in tourism just as any other traveller. Great strides have been made to advance universal accessibility, particularly in Europe, but there are still many opportunities to be seized. Accessibility for all depends much on the will of all players to work together, and we at UNWTO remain committed to advancing this fundamental agenda and implementing the necessary changes alongside our partners.”

While referring to the morphological features of the hilly mediaeval town of San Marino, the Minister of Tourism, H.E. Mr. Teodoro Lonfernini, pointed out that “San Marino is doing its best to make its territory accessible to as many visitors as possible, while also trying to enable an authentic travel experience to people with special needs”, adding that “if a country like the Republic of San Marino can achieve that, many other States should be able to follow the same path”.

The Conference was jointly organized by UNWTO and the Government of the Republic of San Marino in collaboration with Village for All (V4A) and the ONCE Foundation of Spain.

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