Future-proof your business by making sure you are welcoming of people of all abilities. Sure, it is a process, but it is not necessarily a difficult one and it will bring very positive outcomes both for your business and for our world. And the good news is, there are plenty of resources you can use, no need to reinvent everything, and you can focus your energy on innovation to differentiate yourself. Together we can create a “snowball effect” – as our keynote speaker put it – and go from exception to mainstreaming!
“Accessibility and inclusion is a journey. It’s not a compliance measure that you just tick a box and then you’re done. It really is that journey that’s all encompassing, right from the planning, through the execution, through the staffing… it really embodies everything that you do.”
– Yasmine Gray
A FUTURE WITHOUT BARRIERS
After four days of industry insights and captivating talks from tourism leaders, there is no doubt that accessible and inclusive tourism has the potential to recover the sector. “Millions of people around the world have also realized that the rebound of our economies will be much stronger and much more solid if we create more inclusive societies,” Igor Stefanovic reminds the AITCAP audience.
“In the US, 1 in 4 individuals have a sensory need. What this means is if you go into any kind of public place, or even engage in the regular community, the noises, the sounds, the lights, the crowds, even certain smells are very overwhelming and physically painful. And it affects basically anyone that is autistic to PTSD to dementia,” explains Julain Maha MD.
While many businesses aim to be inclusive, the fear of being labeled as discriminatory may prohibit progress. “I think there’s a willingness to want to do it, but there’s a nervousness about how to go about it. Certainly having the engagement from your teams makes a difference in order to break down any internal barriers and fears that people might have,” Tina Brandt confirms.
Accessible & inclusive tourism is a powerful entry-point across generations and benefits the elderly consumer segment as well. Giovanna Lever explains: “The seniors market is also an important contributor to the Australian economy, and operators need to be aware of accommodating these customers. Seniors coming through now are more financially secure than previously by nature of their generation, and they’re ready and wanting to spend.”
That’s why we have provided 5 easy steps to help you start the accessible & inclusive conversation:
STEP 1: Understand the need
Julian Maha MD who is currently on the board of Kulture City, emphasises the importance of understanding the need for accessibility and inclusion especially from a sensory need standpoint. “I think the first step is to understand the need. And that can be from a social good standpoint, it can be from a purely financial standpoint. But the key is to understand the need and then reach out to different resources that are available for that, be it KultureCity or someone else locally in your area.”
STEP 2: Everyone wants to feel pampered when they are on holiday
Avoiding the social stigma of making mistakes may feel like walking on eggshells, but there is a simple solution. Julie Jones, suggests a humanising approach to this problem “I think one of the things that we really need to get across to the tourism industry is that there is no difference in what a person with a disability is looking for when they are looking for a holiday or are looking for a hotel. We’re looking for a bit of a treat or a spoil.”
Dane Cross furthers this point, “When I travel I am with the family and we’re looking to have the same experience as any other families. […] Some place that makes us feel relaxed and special I guess!”
STEP 3: Embrace a welcoming attitude
Tobias reminds us that simply employing a welcoming and accommodating attitude is all it takes to start embracing accessibility and inclusion: “If they just say: “We welcome people with disability, and we try to make everything possible”. Often, that’s enough, so people know, okay, those they are aware of my special needs, and they will try to support me. They don’t have to rebuild everything and when they have a booking or have a request… often it’s really some little adjustments, and adaptations that are necessary.”
STEP 4: Apply Codesign
You don’t have to do this journey alone, In fact, working with people with disabilities is an asset. “It is complex for a hotel or a designer to really understand what people with disabilities actually need. And my message is that this has been a learning process for me and that’s why codesign is so important,” Julie Jones confirms.
STEP 5: Consider the Triple Bottom Line
“Inclusion is the right thing to do,” Ben Aldridge declares, “There is definitely a moral obligation to it. But it’s the mindset that we need to change. We need to change the mindset around the idea that disability is not profitable.”
If moral obligation is not enough to convince you of the value of accessible and inclusive tourism, then the bottom line might.
According to a 2018 study by Open Doors Organization, based in Chicago, Illinois. “27 million (american adults with disabilities) travelers took a total of 81 million trips, spending $58.7 billion US dollars on just their own travel.” John Morris reminds us that this results in an “annual valuation of more than $29 billion US dollars in the accessible travel marketplace.”
And this is an emerging market set to soar as it hits it’s growth phase.
“It’s the awareness you have just given me. As an able person within the tourism sector, you presentation has brought so many un-thought of areas to my attention from accommodation to attractions, to my own tours!“
“I 100% agree and always follow the mantra of the most important thing to pack when you travel is your positive attitude!”
“Compliant (in whatever context that means in your country) should be tick a box. It is a minimum standard. And will be accessible to most. Inclusive however is beyond compliance. True accessibility is a misnomer as its an individual judgement.”
“Wonderful! I have happy tears, brilliant video.”
“I’m glad to know about your company. It’s content that I can share in my country as a good example in hiring disabled people.”
“Another eye-opening session for the tourism industry.”
Keynotes, panel discussions, workshops… All sessions will be pre-recorded with captions and transcripts to increase accessibility and live Q&A features will allow for discussion with speakers, sponsors & hosts.
AITCAP is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of accessible & inclusive travel and showcase organisations championing change. Get to know this huge, fast-growing and underserved market.
The inaugural Accessible & Inclusive Tourism Conference in the Asia-Pacific (AITCAP) will connect the huge under-served accessible tourism market with the travel & leisure sector to improve understanding that accessible tourism is a huge and growing market.
Now is the time to increase the momentum, and for the Asia-Pacific region to catch up with the US and Europe on accessible tourism.
In 2019, we had a crowd-funding campaign to launch AITCAP first edition. Due to COVID-19 it was delayed. Thankfully, we didn’t lose any of our budget on cancellations and we will be going virtual which means more resources for incredible content!
Have a look at our introductory video for the 2019 crowd-funding campaign:
On the right is a recap of the campaign and we thank again all of our amazing donors.
We had been planning to host #APATCE in late 2020 in Canberra, Australia, but due to Covid-19, the first edition will be delivered as an engaging and information-rich virtual event that will take place in 2021 and embraces the new opportunities available to us by going online.
You can register your interest in the form above.
Imagine if you didn’t know where to get ideas for places to go, things to see or things to do. Imagine if you couldn’t find accurate venue information online or by phone. Imagine that you or one of your travelling companions couldn’t use the shower at a hotel, or the toilet at a restaurant.
Unfortunately, these are the sorts of problems faced by people with a disability almost every time they want to go somewhere they don’t already know. People with disability want to get out and about with their families and friends, but often, it’s all just too hard and they end up staying at home to avoid the frustration.
The conference will include both guest speakers and a tradeshow/expo. The conference and expo’s main purposes are to:
If successful, we anticipate that the conference would become an annual event, circulating to different host cities around Australia/Asia-Pacific each year.