Universal design in the tourism sector

Lea Rollová


People with disabilities have the right to travel and they want to enjoy traveling and leisure experiences. However, their travel experiences are still characterized by transportation constraints, inaccessible accommodation and touristic sites, and inadequate customer services. There has been a call on the tourism providers to adopt Tourism to All principles as a foundation to achieve greater social sustainability. Providing accommodation and services in the tourism sector to youth, or socially deprived families can be achieved mainly through changes in the attitude of management of enterprises in this sector, but making accessible the facilities for clients with limited mobility or orientation disorders, requires change in  architectural environments, buildings and products in tourism destinations. Principles of „Universal Design / Design for All“ should also be applied to a variety of public areas and services, including information services, such as transport, shops, cafes, restaurants, theatres, sports facilities and other places of entertainment.  “Universal Design” is a design philosophy that envisions the built environment to be designed for the specific and changing needs of all clients, irrespective of their age, status and physical capabilities.

The aim of this paper is to pay attention to the needs of disabled people with respect to special solutions in design of urban areas, public spaces, transportation, public buildings and products which are typical for tourist destinations. There are descriptions of requirements related to design of barrier-free hiking trails, accessible water surfaces as well as other attractive areas in the landscape. In the part “accessible public buildings” are named the basic requirements for the creation of accommodation facilities, exhibition spaces, auditoria, access devices for pools, dressing rooms for performers and athletes, etc. In conclusion, a system of implementation principles of the Tourism for All in Slovakia is proposed. Removing barriers in the environment is a long-term process and should be divided into several levels of implementation: the formulation and introduction of related legislation in order to protect the right of the disabled persons to access of facilities and environment, education and training on awareness and sensitivity to disability issues, provision of accessible facilities in the tourism sector, establishment of the system of certification for public buildings and products in order to motivate the owners / operators of accommodation and recreational facilities.

Keywords: Slovakia, urban design, universal design, tourism, region, Public Spaces, architecture, orientation