Interview: Accessibility is essence of GCET: UNWTO official

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TRAVEL GAZETTE – The world will see great benefits by ensuring tourism is accessible for everyone and respects diversity in religious beliefs, philosophies and morals as this makes up the essence of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET), said Marina Diotallevi, Program Head of Ethics and Social Responsibility at the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua she highlighted that “15 percent of the World population live with some kind of disability,” while by “2050, 20 percent of the population will be aged 65 or over.”

“With this big market in view, it is interesting for tourist businesses in the private sector to make their destination, products and also information, accessible to everyone,” she said to Xinhua.

Diotallevi focused on China, saying the country, which is the largest source market in the world with around 120 million Chinese visiting other countries in 2015, is also a huge market for receiving tourists.

“The potential of an aging population in the near future means China has an interest in adapting for the accessible tourism market. This will not only help the aging population in China, but also those who wish to visit China,” she commented.

The UNWTO adopted the 10-article GCET in 1999, which Diotallevi described as a “roadmap for the development of responsible and sustainable tourism.”

The first article of GCET is about the contribution tourism can make to increasing understanding and mutual respect between people and societies. It says understanding and the promotion of the common ethical values of the human race, such as tolerance and respect for the diversity of religious beliefs, ideas and morality, are both the basis and consequences of responsible tourism.

She explained the code asks the tourism industry and tourists themselves to pay attention to the traditions, social and cultural practices in different countries (including their own), and recognize their richness and variety.
Meanwhile tourism can also be an instrument for personal and collective development, a factor for sustainable development and for enriching the cultural patrimony of the human race.

“The idea is to make tourism available and to create sustainable environments, products and infrastructure which are suitable to all persons without any barriers,” commented the Head of Ethics and Social Responsibility.

With Beijing hosting the First World Conference on Tourism for Development later this month, accessible tourism is a logical path to follow.
“Accessible tourism is not only about people with disabilities, it is also about senior people; persons who with the aging population need more accessible environments, more accessible products and a more accessible infrastructure,” explained Diotavelli.

Finally she explained the importance of the “chain of accessibility,” which means the information one receives before starting a trip, airport transfers, flights, hotels and activities all have to be accessible, “without a broken link, otherwise the experience will be negative,” she commented.

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