On September 27, 2016, the UNWTO announced that the theme for World Tourism Day, and for the following 12 months, would be ’Tourism for All – promoting Universal Accessibility’. While much of the industry continues to make considerable progress on this issue, few have embraced the challenge and opportunity as innovatively as the Spanish company Native Hotels.
Native was set up by two journalists, so it is little surprise that much of what sets the company apart is its focus on the importance of communication for ensuring as universal and inclusive access as possible. Guests at their network of hotels have access to vibrating watches with alerts and messages for deaf customers, while signage packs and door signs in Braille help the visually impaired navigate through the hotel, its rooms, and bathrooms. Even the tagline beneath the company’s logo on their website is rendered in Braille rather than standard Roman characters.
They are now launching a uniquely accessible online platform for the travel industry, which Native says is the hotels web platform that offers the highest accessibility, and allows users with any kind of disability to use a computer to make their holiday choices. Already available in six languages, it can be used by anyone, even if they are unable to see the screen, touch the keyboard, or speak to the computer – so long as a person can blow onto a microphone or emit a sound, they can use the platform.
Furthermore, the accessibility option is available online, rather than limited to any specific computer. So users can access the platform using any computer, anywhere. So users can access it using any computer, anywhere. Once on the platform, they can compare a range of hotels standards of accessibility for people with different disabilities, indicating each accessible element at the hotel and room. For tourism to ensure it delivers its benefits to as many people as possible, everyone needs to be able to discover what is within their reach. Native’s new platform brings that world closer for many more.