Accessible? Is that Inclusive?

Martin Heng sits in a chair and there is an elephant closeby. He fist-bumps the elephant's trunk. ant using its trunk.There’s a growing realisation that accessibility does not equal inclusion. Getting in and out of somewhere is only the beginning. Being able to participate on an equal basis requires inclusive thinking and design. This includes the tourism sector. Being accessible is not the same as being inclusive.

Martin Heng, formerly of Lonely Planet, has an article in New Mobility that addresses this issue from a tourism perspective. He argues that the term “Accessible Tourism” is unhelpful. It has helped identify a market segment in economic terms, and some operators are on board. But it only goes so far. Change is slow and piecemeal. 

Heng’s article is titled, “It’s Time to Move Beyond Access to Inclusion“.  He concludes his article by saying we need to go beyond market segment ideas. We need to encourage the tourism industry to adopt an inclusive mindset. 

Language and labelling is important. Choosing the right terms can make a big difference. “Accessible” is strongly linked with disability – particularly wheelchair users. “Inclusive” makes us think more broadly – families, people from diverse backgrounds, children and older people. 

There are more articles and guidelines on inclusive tourism on this website.

Image courtesy of New Mobility showing Martin Heng interacting with an elephant.