Innovative Policy 2018 on Accessibility

Towards a global voluntary framework for accessible tourism

Since 2016, Fundación ONCE, a leading Spanish foundation supporting people with disabilities, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) have been driving the creation of a global standard Accessible Tourism for Everyone. The standard will provide clear guidelines for tourism planning and destination management, with specific recommendations and requirements for accessible tourism. The TC 228 Technical Committee, a body tasked with tourism and related services, is drafting the standard within the framework of the International Standards Authority (ISO). It will help countries to better understand the needs of users and provide a blueprint to best address them, whether by public authorities or the private sector.

About the policy at a glance
Laws and regulations involved:The standard is to be called ‘ISO 21902 – Tourism and related services. Accessible tourism for everyone: Requirements and recommendations.’
Responsible Body:UNWTO, Fundación ONCE and ISO
of Implementation


  • Standard is expected to be approved via consensus by the ISO in 2018 and then published in 2019. It foresees certification of built environment, transport, as well as urban, rural, and natural environments
  • Has potential for global impact and significantly increased tourism.


Despite the existence of some accessible tourism standards, there remain large gaps from country to country. Lack of knowledge of the existing tools and solutions is further complicated by contradictory information on different standards between countries and regions.


The UNWTO convened this project so that all people can participate in and enjoy tourism experiences. By developing a global standard, accessible tourism can be delivered systematically, as the guidelines and specifications guarantee that materials, products, processes, and services are fit for their purpose.
This project is a systematic inventory of technical criteria, recommendations, and requirements within the tourism industry, whose international standardization regarding accessibility is still pending.
Although still in the drafting stage, recommendations will include both general and concrete measures relating to such aspects as travel planning, information, and communication. This will help address issues such as inaccessible booking services and their related websites and the lack of accessibility training among professional staff.
All the agents linked together in the tourism chain will receive recommendations to make their products and services accessible and usable for all people, regardless of their capabilities. The impact will be more settings, products, and services that are designed for the enjoyment and use of everyone, thereby increasing accessible tourism worldwide. Accessible tourist destinations will become more dynamic, positioning themselves ahead of those that do not take account of the issues covered in the standard.


To date, the TC288 Technical Committee has met several times to develop and draft the standard, most recently in May 2017 in Panama. The meeting included representatives from Argentina, Austria, Canada, Ireland, Panama, Spain, and the United Kingdom, as well as from several tourism bodies such as the European Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agencies.

The standard should be completed in 2018, at which time it will be submitted for approval via consensus by the 162-member countries of the ISO. In 2019 it will be published and made available to non-ISO members.
The standard is designed to be transferable such that any country can adopt it at the legislative level. As the requirements for accessible tourism will be detailed, public authorities can immediately implement them.
At present, project expenses are related to consultancy and travelling. Fundación ONCE contributes its own resources and receives financing from the Spanish government through the Royal Board on Disability.


Jesús Hernández-Galán, PhD
Director of Universal Accessibility and Innovation Directorate, Fundacion ONCE


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