Europe – like other parts of the world – lacks many appropriate accessibility provisions for the general population. This is a problem which affects many people both in their daily lives and also as tourists.
Physical access and access to information are often less than adequate in transport, at tourist destinations, in accommodation and all kinds of venues and attractions. This lack of accessibility has a direct and negative effect on tourist numbers (both inbound to Europe and within Europe) and on the quality of tourism destinations and products. Many tourists and would-be travellers experience access problems, especially those with physical or sensory disabilities, people who are older and perhaps a little more frail, as well as pregnant women, families with small children and people with a chronic health condition or a temporary disability. All of these people need “accessible tourism”.
Some of the access difficulties we find today are due to many years of ignorance about access requirements when planning, designing and managing buildings, transport systems and infrastructure. For a long time, customers’ needs were not known or understood, and even today – despite improvements – these needs are not being taken sufficiently into account in the tourism sector.
Planning laws and policies, building norms and standards in accessibility vary widely between the regions and Member States of the European Union, and among neighbouring countries. The availability of expertise in planning and designing accessible infrastructure and services also varies considerably. This situation gives rise to some confusion and lack of certainty when planning and developing accessible tourism facilities and services. – either when upgrading or starting from scratch.
ENAT is working to improve accessibility in the tourism sector by consolidating existing knowledge and giving all actors the opportunity to put this knowledge to use through collaboration, wherever they are based in Europe.
With ENAT, we want to help make Europe as a whole an accessible destination, where all travellers can move freely, enjoy new experiences and be sure of getting the service they need and expect. We believe that accessible tourism must be made a priority – for the good of the tourists and for the long-term sustainability of the European tourist industry.
*ENAT was established in January 2006 as a project-based initiative of nine sponsoring organisations in six EU Member States.
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