Tourism, access and heritage

Heritage Facade of the museum showing pale yellow stone bricks a doorway and four windowsAntonio Espinosa-Ruiz, Director of Vilamuseu in Spain explains some of the detail they have applied to their heritage sites, and laments that most museum professionals do not consider accessibility as part of their work. He says that access and inclusion cannot be waived, “nothing can be done without it”. They do not adapt, that is, create something and then think how to make it inclusive, “…we design for all from the beginning”. The article has a long but descriptive title: Design for all in Vilamuseu (Villajoyosa, Spain): How we work day by day to make heritage inclusive on one of the World’s main tourist regions. The article is is somewhat wordy but there are some good examples here. Accessibility in a museum is much more than just thinking about the building – it’s making exhibits and learning available to all.

The article is from the Design for All Newsletter India. 


Strong business case still not enough?

A graphic from the article showing a red centre circle with smaller blue circles surrounding it. It depicts the process for accessible product developmentBill Forrester has written an excellent and comprehensive article about the business case for inclusive travel and tourism. This evidence has been around for a while, and Bill is not the only one promoting it. So why is it taking so long for things to change? Bill argues that while the arguments are compelling, they are too big to comprehend at a local level. Knowing the size of the potential market is not much help to a small operator – the business owner needs to know what to do about it. That means tangible action plans based on customer needs. Universal design underpins this article which has some nice graphics to help explain the planning, design, delivery, and marketing process. You can get more detailed information on the Travability website.

See more on accessible travel and tourism on this website.


UD and Norwegian Tourism Services

Tall houses are reflected in the water.The houses are different colours, yellow, red and blueNorway is a leader in implementing the principles of universal design in built and virtual environments. The study by Linh Nguyen found that while most Norwegian tourism services are universally designed in terms of the service itself, the communication aspect of the service is not. Based on a European Commission report*, people with some form of disability spend more time than others on preparing for a trip to ensure their needs are met. Hence the need for specific information that can be easily found in tourist information material and websites. 

The study used the excellent tourism toolkits from Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland to assess Norwegian services for accessibility and universal design. The title of the thesis is, “Universal Design in Norwegian Tourism Services for Customer Engagement”. You can download the PDF (10MB) directly, or go to the institutional website to see the abstract and download the document from there. An interesting study for anyone interested in tourism and travel and the CEUD toolkits are also well designed. The logo of Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland, purple colour circular design.CEUD website has some interesting tourism case studies.



*European Commission Report, “Economic  Impact and Travel Patterns of Accessible Tourism in Europe – Final Report”.


From the Editor

Distance view of Tashkent Airport showing people lifting their luggage up the steps to the entranceI am back from my travels along the Silk Road in Uzbekistan and Western China. Uzbekistan is no longer under Soviet rule and is re-emerging as a vibrant country with a rich culture. Tourism is a key factor and new infrastructure for roads and very fast rail was a surprise. New airports, train stations, and hotels abound. I could see some attempts at accessibility, but nothing was joined up. It was a great pity to see a brand new airport with six steps to the entrance. This was a recurring theme.

Picture of people carrying luggage up 56 step to the train platform. There is a wheelchair platform lift folded up at the bottom.Over the border in Western China the station for the very fast train has 56 steps up to the platform and many more before that. The  escalator needed a key to start it, but no person with a key could be found. Regardless, managing bags on an escalator is not optimum. The presence of a wheelchair platform lift gave the idea that compliance to some sort of standard was considered, but not the regular travelling public with their bags. So no passenger lift. Much of the rail infrastructure is elevated hence the steps both up to the station entrance and then more up to the platform.

A short steep ramp next to steps to an exhibition area. It has a portable sign displaying the access symbol.On arrival at the heritage site for the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, men with wheelchairs approached us and vied for customers. For a small fee you could be pushed around the very large area of three warrior pits and a museum. However, only trolley ramps were available and most people had to get out and walk up the steps. I did find one access sign though. One person in our group took advantage of this service. It was interesting to see how popular the Silk Road journey is for residents of both Uzbekistan and China – both are keen to re-discover their heritage.

Brightly coloured three tier Chinese PagodaTravelling the Silk Road is not for the faint-hearted. Steps abound due to the nature of the heritage buildings that include many steps as a matter of course. Major hotels are not much better, but it is expected that staff will help.  And the many security checks mean lots of lifting and shifting of luggage too.

Many thanks to fellow director, Queenie Tran for looking after the newsletter and website in my absence. 

Remember you can support the hosting of the website and newsletter by becoming a member for just $25 a year.  Jane Bringolf, Editor


Inclusive Hotels and Tourism

Hotel bedroom with polished floors, orange and red pillows on a couch and textured wallpaperBelow are links to four previous posts on hotels and tourism. More can be found on the Travel and Tourism menu tab on the left hand side of the website. Tourism is leading the way with the economic arguments for universal design and inclusion. Other industries could follow their lead for increased profits and enhanced branding.

Listen up hotel managers! You’re missing out

Inclusive Hotels: A guide

Queensland Inclusive Tourism Guide

UK Tourism guide for business


EU tourist guide

Front cover of publication. Blue background with a night time scene across a cityThe European Concept for Accessibility Network (EuCAN) has produced a tourism guide based on their Design for All (Universal Design) principles. Each chapter is a case study, and each discusses the seven success factors, and drivers and obstacles. Cities featured are located in Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Luxembourg, Germany, Spain and Australia.

Design for All in Tourist Destinations includes a section on Sydney’s “Cultural Ribbon”, which was written by Simon Darcy and Barbara Almond. It discusses the accessibility of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore precincts including the Sydney Opera House, and Darling Harbour. It is good to see Australia featured in this European publication as an example of best practice. A comprehensive reference list is included.

In the introduction it encourages a business approach rather than a compliance approach which can result in push-back so that the market remains marginalised rather than being seen as a profit centre. ” In the past, it was expected that a person would give up their personal goals, when the environmental or organisational possibilities to make it happen appeared to be too difficult or even unrealistic. Today, we have the technical and organisational means to overcome many barriers and, at the same time, the freedom for personal decision-making has been anchored in a set of nondiscrimination laws.”

Landscape view of Barangaroo Parkland showing a pedestrian, wheelchair user, cyclist and pram pusher

picture source:


Queensland Inclusive Tourism Guide

Front cover of the guide showing a man in a red shirt with his arms outstrechedThe introduction to the Queensland Government’s guide, Inclusive Tourism: Making your business more accessible and inclusive, begins, “This guide has been developed primarily for tourism operators, to help them:

  • increase their knowledge about the market for accessible tourism
  • develop strategies to improve the accessibility of their operation to appeal to a wider range of visitors of all abilities and ages
  • understand their legal obligations in relation to inclusive and accessible tourism.

The guide also includes information to assist people with disability in planning a holiday. Local government can use this guide to: support and promote inclusive tourism across businesses, festivals, events and public spaces; and to incorporate inclusive and accessible design into their design codes and planning guidelines.