Inaccessible holidays for the disabled: lilac flag only for 45 out of 7,904 Italian municipalities

For over 3 million and 150 thousand Italians living with some form of disability holidays are inaccessible, almost. I am alone 45 on 7.904 (the 0.57%) i Italian municipalitiesin 15 Regions, which can boast the title of Lilac flag. The recognition is awarded every year by the social cooperative society of the same name, with the support of the Council of the Liguria Region, to those realities that constantly work for to improve your own tourist accessibility.

The number of people in need of assistance is increasing, the share of accessible tourism is growing

Due to aging, socio-demographic changes and health problems the number of users of the accessible tourism is constantly increasing and already today, as revealed by Majid Al-Usaimipresident of the Asian Paralympic Committee and member of the International Paralympic Committee, represents the 15% in the global tourism market. According to recent WHO estimatesbetween 10-15% of the world population has some kind of need for assistance and the share of those requiring assistive devices (wheelchair, communication technology) will double, by 2050, from 1 billion to 2 billion people. Istat, on the other hand, estimates a 70% increase in travelers with disabilities by 2035, as long as tourism and leisure experiences become increasingly accessible and inclusive. A market with second ‘gold’ potential a study ofUniversity of Surreywhich estimates the possible revenue around ai 80 billion euros.

The expenses for travelers with disabilities and the services requested

Accessible tourism: for Istat by 2035 there will be a 70% increase in travelers with disabilities

Travelers with disabilities are, first of all, people with a strong spending power, also because on average a holiday for them it costs two to four times more compared to the other. Expenses generally concern accommodation at higher prices for space, hygiene and access needs, achieved by spending more on travel (extra space is needed in planes and trains), for rental of (larger) vehicles and for transport services. The services that are offered must be designed to focus on people whose mobility, vision, hearing, strength and mental health are on the decline. For example, the cruise has become one of the options preferred by families, couples and seniors in particular, but if even one member of the group is in a wheelchair, it is an equipped means of transport is necessary to allow him to move around from the port to the attractions ashore, otherwise risking to lose potential income. Likewise, older people with walking difficulties may require a guide or staff trained, who knows the right routes to minimize their walking difficulties. Other service elements tailored to people with specific needs and requirements may include the availability of nursingmedical procedures such as kidney dialysis, oxygen, or have access to information on the hospitals, doctors or physiotherapists closest to the resort.

Losses in the (in) accessible tourism sector

In destinations and markets where accessibility is insufficient, market performance is 25-35% lower compared to expectations. In Germanyfor example, the 37% of people with disabilities decided to do not go on a journey due to the lack of accessible facilities though the 48% would travel more frequently if these were available and the 60% would be willing to pay a higher price for their use. Indeed, as explained by Annagrazia Laurapresident of the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) in his speech during the Dubai Accessible Tourism International Summit 2022the lack of adequate facilities and services causes the global tourism economy to lose approximately 142 billion euros And 3.4 million jobs.

Accessibility means improving people’s quality of life

Antonella Celano
Antonella Celano, president of Apmarr

“Accessibility in tourism can and must be an engine for improve the quality of life of people with disabilities in countries with a strong tourist vocation, given that the efforts benefit society as a whole – he says Antonella Celanopresident of APMARRNational Association of People with Rheumatological and Rare Diseases, which defends the rights of over 5.5 million patients -. For be able to improve accessibility practices, eliminating the main ones structural barriers (booking and transport services, accommodation facilities, communication) e social (lack of training for businesses and operators in the tourism sector and awareness of accessibility issues) one needs to think about active and direct participation of people with disabilities in the drafting of standard international protocols that are able to guarantee the same level of accessibility and quality of service. […] Accessible tourism is not just redesigning a bathroom according to the law – he adds -. The world of hospitality is much more and it means welcome peoplemake them feel at ease and make them feel good. […] Disability does not it must in fact be experienced as one deprivation of one’s freedom personal and especially during the holidays it is important to live normally, with carefree and cheerfulness, living them with a smile and enjoying relaxation, just like everyone does “.