Last week Responsible Travel announced the winners of the 2015 World Responsible Tourism Awards – the culmination of a global search for the most enduring, and inspirational responsible travel experiences around the world.
The winners are not only working in innovative, exciting ways to make their local areas better places to live in, as well as better places to visit – but they also offer travellers some of the world’s most memorable, inspiring holiday opportunities rooted in people and place. And the 2015 winners of the ‘Best Accommodation for Disability Access’ category sponsored by Enable Holidays, are no exception.
So are these the most accessible, responsible accommodations in the world? Well, they’re certainly up there. The three winners not only have a firm commitment to a more responsible style of business, but their ethos on inclusivity goes well beyond simply installing wheelchair ramps. These are hotels and accommodations which are making exciting, once-in-a-lifetime holiday experiences available to everyone, welcoming people with a wide range of disabilities and using their influence to help shape the rest of the tourism industry. And the word ‘welcoming’ is key – as Harold Goodwin, Chair of the Judging panel says “A number of nominations from businesses doing excellent work to address equality of access were passed over for an award because they were not communicating the accessibility of their product to their potential clients. For whatever reason they had not crossed this taboo, they have not said “you are welcome” to people with disabilities”.
The 2015 winners are the future of a more inclusive tourism industry.
Gold Winner – Endeavour Safaris
Endeavour Safaris’ specially adapted mobile tented safari camps not only give tourists the opportunity to experience a safari in Botswana, Namibia or South Africa, but will take them to remote spots such as the islands of the Okavango Delta where they can camp under the stars after a day on safari. Once-in-a-lifetime holiday experiences which this company ensures are not out of the reach of travellers with mobility, visual, hearing or other disabilities. The judges say ‘Endeavour Safaris demonstrate that it is possible to enable people with a wide variety of disabilities to enjoy the same safari experience as their families and friends. With specially-adapted mobile camps, Endeavour Safaris prove that tourism accommodations, even in the wildest of environments, can be enjoyed by nearly all tourists, no matter what their needs.’
Gold Winner – Scandic Hotels
A hotel chain may seem more mundane than accessible safaris, but Scandic are anything but. With hotels across Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, Scandic mean smart Scandinavian designed city-breaks are ready for all travellers to enjoy. Inclusivity is so ingrained that disabled guests are simply just guests. And there is a wealth of access information online for each hotel – from how wide the bathroom door is, to whether hearing loops are available in the lobby, or whether voice announcements can be heard in the lifts. The judges say “Scandic Hotels are applauded for their top-down, all-encompassing approach to inclusivity, integrating accessibility into all parts of their hotel business from floor to board level. Like Endeavour, they address a wide range of disabilities and particularly impressed the judges with their leadership – developing an e-learning course and making this freely available to their peers across the tourism industry.”
Silver Winner – RuralSuite Hotel Apartamentos****
Tucked away in rural Navarre, Spain, RuralSuite understand that just like everyone, people with disabilities want an adventure, to stay in beautiful accommodations, and discover new places and cultures. For this reason the beautiful apartments at RuralSuite go beyond just minimum requirements for accessibility. Alongside catering for travellers’ needs, the hotel caters for travel desires, with fully adapted on-site activities available, such as quad-biking or horse-riding through their lovely Navarre estate.
Lynne Kirby, managing director of category sponsor Enable Holidays explains why supporting the category has been so important “As one of the pioneers of accessible travel, Enable Holidays is pleased to support initiatives that are helping to open up more of the world to disabled people. By sponsoring the Best Accommodation for Disability Access category in the World Responsible Tourism Awards, we are helping to promote the need for truly barrier-free holidays and keeping this important issue at the top of the agenda”.
For more information visit the World Responsible Tourism Awards website.
If you’re planning your next holiday, why not visit our new travel site, Accomable, to find accessible accommodation not just in the UK, but across the world.