Madrid (Spain), 15 July 2021. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published the first international standard on accessible tourism, ISO 21902 Tourism and related services — Accessible tourism for all — Requirements and recommendations.This international standard, which implements best practices, will firmly contribute to ensuring that all persons can enjoy tourism in equal conditions.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the ONCE Foundation and the Spanish Association for Standardization, UNE, has led the drafting of this pioneering cross-sector international standard, which is focused on accessible tourism throughout the entire tourism industry value chain.
This is a business that in the European Union represents a potential market of 80 million people; a figure that rises to 130 million if travelling companions are taken into account. Furthermore, it is a growing market, given the population pyramid in many countries of Europe, which is also true for other regions of the world.
The standard is available in Spanish as UNE-ISO 21902, having been translated and adopted into the national catalogue of standards managed by UNE. The standard is aimed at both service providers and tour operators, as well as public administrations and tourist destinations.
UNE-ISO 21902 establishes the requirements and recommendations for accessible tourism. For example, for a beach to be considered accessible, it must have showers, toilets and pathways that can be used by all persons. Accessible pedestrian paths in the natural realm should have, among other aspects, a smooth and continuous surface, and there should be signage along the path and route details clearly shown before the start of the route. In their written communications, tourist establishments should generally use a simple and clear language, following a logical sequence, with images and graphic symbols, where applicable, using the contrast of colours and legible font types.
This standard aims to become a key tool that will enable all persons to access their right to enjoy tourism and leisure. Despite the progress made in recent decades, in many countries there is still a way to go for the tourism sector to cater for the needs of the over 1,000 persons around the world who live with disabilities.
Because of how the environments, infrastructures and a wide range of tourist services have been designed, tourists with disabilities often face a number of challenges, which can hinder from the planning of their trip to their experience at the destination. This standard is intended to be a lever to promote this change.
Throughout 2021 and 2022, the WTO, the ONCE Foundation and UNE, together with experts, will be launching an awareness campaign aimed at their members and partners, highlighting the harmonisation of the accessible tourism offer, on a global scale, through standards.
This worldwide standard has been drawn up by the International Committee for Standardization ISO/TC 228 Tourism and related services, in which the UNWTO coordinated the WG14 work group, bringing together 85 experts from more than 35 countries and five relevant organizations in this field, to draft the standard. Furthermore, the ONCE Foundation took on the technical leadership and UNE acted as secretariat and ISO coordinator.
UNE-ISO 21902 Accessible Tourism