World Tourism Day 2021

Each year, 27 September is World Tourism Day and in 2021, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has designated World Tourism Day 2021 as a day to focus on “Tourism for Inclusive Growth.”

UNWTO is the United Nations specialized agency for responsible and sustainable tourism, which recognised tourism is one of the world’s most important economic sectors, employing one in every ten people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more.

As we  navigate the challenges of tourism today, they have shared the following message for World Tourism Day:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive social and economic impact. Both developed and developing economies have been hit. And marginalized groups and the most vulnerable have been hit hardest of all. The restart of tourism will help kickstart recovery and growth. It is essential that the benefits this will bring are enjoyed widely and fairly."

Understanding The Accessible Tourist

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of the world’s population (1 billion people) lives with some form of disability.  Accessible tourism benefits a broad range of people including those with permanent or temporary disabilities, but also other groups including those with young children in prams and seniors with mobility requirements.  These groups may have physical/mobility, hearing vision and cognitive access requirements.

It is important to acknowledge that our guests who require accessible options are still seeking the same things as all other travellers - relaxation and the chance to unwind; appealing experiences; good accommodation; good food and drink. 

Economic Benefits of Embracing Accessible Tourism

In 2017, Tourism Research Australia, in partnership with Tourism, Events and Visitor Economy branch of the Victorian Government, and Tourism and Events Queensland, commissioned a study into accessible tourism in Victoria, Queensland and Australia.  Key findings within this report include:

  • The contribution of Accessible Tourism to the Australian Visitor Economy is $10.8 billion
    • $8 billion domestic
    • $2.8 billion inbound
    • That is greater than the $10.4 billion spend by Chinese tourists inbound to Australia
  • The contribution of Accessible Tourism to the Queensland Visitor Economy is $1.9 billion:
    • Average travel party size was 2.28 or 13% (657,000) of Queensland’s total population
    • Travel party spend (including the person with a disability) was $1.9 billion (approximately 10% of total domestic spend in Queensland), 84% of which was overnight spend.
  • Travellers with disabilities had a strong tendency to manage the stresses and uncertainties of travel by returning to destinations they knew well. Consequently, they appeared to have a higher incidence of repeat visitation and were loyal customers.


How To Be More Accessible For Our Region's Guests

Accessible tourism in 2021 is about ensuring that as we recover economically after lockdowns, we are ensuring our industry is not imposing unreasonable new obstacles and barriers for this market.

While the opportunities to make your business are extensive (see the Resources section below for more details), there are a few key and very simple things that will make travel more achievable for those with accessibility needs:

Detailed, relevant and easy-to-find information is the number one priority in planning travel
- Ensure your ATDW listing is updated with your accessibility information - this will flow through to websites including and
- Ensure your website is updated with relevant information about your entire business

Planning & Service
Personal contact with you as an operator means its easy to get answers to specific questions about your business
- Ensure your website and social media have your number listed in a prominent location
- Make sure all customer facing staff are trained to understand what you can and can't offer to meet your guests' accessibility needs

Facilities & Transport 
Knowing that accommodations are available for those with accessible needs is crucial, especially around toilets, entrances and public and private transport
- Think about what facilities and complementary businesses around your operation offer accessible options.  e.g. if you don't have a wheelchair-accessible bathroom, how close is the nearest one? Or if you're recommending another operator, are you certain that they are suitable?

Travability has a fantastic blog with six key action areas including accessibility in business planning, staff training and inclusion, and digital transformation.  The full article can be found here.


Travability are national advocates for accessible travel and have a vast array of resources available to tourism businesses

Tourism Australia has compiled a fantastic toolkit of resources and research on accessible tourism

- ATIC has introduced an accessibility self-assessment module which joins the suite of best practice programs under the national Quality Tourism Framework and QTIC is offering the first year free to existing Star Ratings and Quality Tourism Accredited Businesses (QTAB)