MADRID - FiturNext, the FITUR Observatory dedicated to promoting good tourism practices that value sustainability, sponsored by Mastercard, concluded its latest edition on 22 January. After an extensive agenda of talks, round tables and reflections on how to promote inclusive tourism, the more than 40 panellists who took part over the four days underlined the route to follow to achieve tourism within everyone's reach: raising awareness of the problem, promoting training in this field and demonstrating that it is not a matter for a few, but a benefit for society as a whole.
Regarding this last point, the speakers agreed on the importance of highlighting the fact that accessibility benefits the entire population and increases the quality of the destination, both for travellers and residents. Specifically, according to their interventions, the best places to live, i.e. those where accessibility is guaranteed, lead to better places to visit.
At the same time, inclusive tourism also requires knowledge in this area. One of the key points pointed out by the experts and initiatives attending FiturNext 2022 was how accessibility training for tourism professionals translates into good practices that affect the entire population in aspects such as job opportunities, public policies and human rights. Therefore, raising visibility and awareness of social inclusion in the sector is synonymous with improvements in a person's life experience.
A programme of accessibility experts
The four days of the congress were the scene of numerous testimonies and activities that focused on how to approach accessibility in tourism. Some of the most relevant voices were those of Rosa Mª Ivars Llopis, deputy general director of Tourism of the Valencian Community, Igor Stefanovic, technical coordinator for Accessibility of the UNWTO Department of Ethics, Culture and Social Responsibility, Miriam Díaz Herrera, councillor for Tourism, Trade, Markets and Institutional Relations of Santander City Council, Daniel Nieto, VP, Government Engagement of Mastercard, and Carme Rubió, deputy general director of Territorial Tourism Development of the Directorate General of Tourism of Catalonia.
Committed initiatives, a report on replicable inclusive tourism and the FiturNext 2023 Challenge
One of the main moments of the event was the presentation of awards to the winning initiatives and the special mention to the finalists of the FiturNext 2022 Challenge for their contribution to accessibility. TUR4all, and its collaborative platform of inclusive resources, Albastar, and its airline that offers every comfort to travellers with disabilities, and COCEMFE, and its "Holiday Programme" planned with guaranteed accessibility in all aspects of the trip, were the award-winning entities.
In addition, the FiturNext 2022 report "Towards a more accessible tourism" was presented with the keys, guidelines and lessons learned by the Observatory throughout the research. Finally, the FiturNext 2023 Challenge was announced: "How tourism can contribute to the regeneration of the natural environment", which will open the call for initiatives in the coming months.