New Universal Access Guide will help your bottom line

What is universal access, why should tourism businesses concern themselves with it, and how do you achieve it?

Martin-Hatchuel-2012-WEBA new quick, easy-to-understand booklet from the African Centre for Universal Access (ACUA) and the Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme (STPP) aims to answer these questions and more.

According to UNWTO Secretary General Talieb Rifai, “Accessibility is a central element of any responsible and sustainable tourism policy. It is both a human rights imperative, and an exceptional business opportunity. Above all, we must come to appreciate that accessible tourism does not only benefit persons with disabilities or special needs; it benefits us all.” (The STPP is an affiliate member of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation – UNWTO.)

Caroline Ungersbock, co-founder of the STPP, described the book as an “Introduction.

“We decided that we needed to do something to promote universal access – which is the UNWTO’s theme for 2016 – and it made sense to do it in partnership with the African Centre for Universal Access (ACUA), which has the design experience and the deep knowledge of the subject that we felt we needed.”

Introduction to universal access

Caroline said that the booklet serves as an introduction to both the legislative requirements and best practice in universal access in tourism.

“We’ve unpacked the issues in order to make it easy for people to understand why changing your infrastructure makes good business sense, and how you can incorporate often relatively easy wins – which are usually quite inexpensive – into your business so that you can make everyone feel welcome.”

The booklet defines the “user groups that are accommodated by a Universal Access approach” as including the elderly, people with disabilities, the obese, families with children, pregnant women, visitors carrying luggage, and tourists with language difficulties or those who don’t speak local languages.”

“This is why Universal Access makes good business sense – these user groups make up a large portion of the population,” said Caroline.

Considerations for Essential Access

According to the text, “Each person is unique in their access requirements. Our human ability includes language and understanding, physical and sensory capabilities. Specific consideration is given to communication, thought process, sight, hearing, speech, mobility, body, arm and hand function.”

The booklet thus covers information about requirements for universal access in communication, the design of accommodation facilities, bathrooms, pathways, streets and roads, ramps and stairs, entrances and doorways, access to upper levels of your building, and to swimming pools and beaches, and also includes considerations for retail outlets, restaurants, leisure venues, and so on.


The booklet was put together by co-founders of the African Centre for Universal Access, Amor Malan and Lisa Venter; the ACUA’s Themba Mpofu; Caroline herself and her colleague and co-founder of the Sustainable Tourism Partnership Programme (STPP), Niki Glen; and  universal design consultants David Venter of Warlock Projects, and Dr. Scott Rains of Inclusion by Design.

‘A Guide to Universal Access in Tourism’ is currently available only in hard copy from the ACUA and the STPP. It’s free, but you will be asked to cover the cost of post and packaging.

“We’re busy white labelling it for publishing by a number of tourism organisations, and we’d welcome enquiries from anyone who wants to print bulk orders,” said Caroline.


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I’m Martin Hatchuel, a tourism practitioner with more than 30 years of experience in the sector, and I write and publish This Tourism Week as an informed, insightful look at issues affecting tourism in South Africa. (And I’ve been doing it since August, 2002.)

Backed by a team that includes web professionals (iBall Media), a graphic designer (Jo Hugo of Design,Etc.), PR consultants (interface by goji), and others, I’m here to help you develop all your communications tools: text (media releases, reports, business case studies, stories), strategies, web sites, apps, images, adverts, brochures, printing, events, and more.

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Now go away on holiday – it’s in the economy’s best interests. And have a great tourism week!

Martin Hatchuel
Chartered Public Relations Professional

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