Accessible tourism to gain momentum as 4th Accessible Travel and Tourism International Conference kick-off in Dubai on 11 January 2024

Accessible tourism to gain momentum as 4th Accessible Travel and Tourism International Conference kick-off in Dubai on 11 January 2024


Conference to debate mobility and inclusiveness for over 1.3 billion People with Disabilities

Ahmed bin Saeed: The UAE is moving forward to become the best tourist destination in the world

€142 billion annual lost opportunities to the global tourism and travel industry for not being compatible for disabled tourists

ME region’s 50 million people with Special Needs eager to visit destinations friendly to them

IATA to organize a workshop as part of conference to highlight its efforts to improve services for the disabled passengers

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – December 21, 2023:  A wide range of activities will take place during the 4th Accessible Travel and Tourism International Conference taking place in Dubai on January 11 and 12, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Chairman of Dubai Airports, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airlines and Group, at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Business Bay.

The conference is aimed at making all cities friendly to People of Determination and underscore the need for strengthening legislations, policies, infrastructure, and services, especially in the areas of air, land, and sea transportation, in addition to accommodation and hospitality services, to meets their needs and aspirations and help them discover the world with ease.

The conference also aims to shed light on the challenges faced by about 1.3 billion people with Special Needs, according to UN World Health Organization (UNWHO) – 50 million of whom live in the Middle East region alone.

As part of the activities, the Conference will host a workshop organized by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) during the conference, in the presence of officials and stakeholders from airlines and airports, to inform them of the latest requirements and standards applied to provide services that meet the needs of people with Special Needs during travel.

The conference is sponsored and supported by Emirates Airlines as the Official Airline, Dubai Economy and Tourism, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) as a Strategic Partner, as the Destination Partner, Dubai Duty Free as Silver Sponsor and JW Marriott Marquis Hotel as the Official Host. Several senior officials and experts from local government agencies like the Dubai Municipality, Roads and Transport Authority, and the Dubai Economy and Tourism, along with international organizations like the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), UNESCO, and Airports Council International (ACI-World), will speak at the conference being organized annually by Nadd Al Shiba PR & Event Management in Dubai.

Among the speakers are His Royal Highness Prince Mired Raad bin Zeid Al-Hussein, President of the Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Jordan, Amr El-Kady, CEO of the Egypt Tourism Authority, Evan Hall, CEO Tourism Council of Western Australia, Salah Khaled, Director of UNESCO DOHA Office of Gulf States and Yemen, and Daniela Bas, former Director of the Division for Comprehensive Social Development, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and other senior officials and experts.

In their speeches, the speakers will address the experience of their countries and institutions and best practices leading to accessible tourism, friendly infrastructure, and various facilities and services in sectors such as hospitality, transportation, health, insurance, and communication, which take into account the requirements of different segments of people with needs. In addition to addressing the most prominent challenges facing these tourists around the world, and revealing the solutions, legislation, and type of services they need from the moment they make the decision to travel, arriving at their intended destination, spending their vacations, and until they return to their country in order to make their travel experience a pleasant, hassle-free memory.

Tourists and visitors of people of determination constitute a large tourist segment that spends billions of dollars annually, and they look forward to visiting cities that are more friendly and meet their needs while traveling, staying, moving, and visiting tourist destinations in these cities. The 50 million people of determination who live in the Middle East represent a promising opportunity to strengthen the tourism industry in the countries of the region and provide thousands of new job opportunities.

People of Determination constitute 10-15 percent of any society, and their numbers around the world are expected to rise to 2 billion people in the year 2050, according to World Health Organization expectations, as a result of many factors, most notably aging, diseases, wars, and other causes. The number of tourists around the world has recorded significant growth over the past two years after the catastrophic effects of the pandemic on the industry, as their number rose to 975 million tourists between January and September 2023, an increase of 38 percent compared to the same period in 2022. Therefore, their numbers are expected to rise to more than one billion tourists by the end of this year.

The conference represents an opportunity for all stakeholders in the travel and tourism sector, such as airport staff, carriers, tourism and travel agents, hospitality services, tourist destinations and attractions, shopping centres and other destinations, to attend in order to explore the opportunities offered by this industry, work towards to benefit from them and enhance their reputation as major players as key players and supporters of the country’s initiatives in this field.

Dubai and the UAE have achieved several achievements in promoting the travel and accessible tourism industry, as part of its vision to become the world’s favourite destination for tourists of people of determination, relying on an integrated system of legislation, advanced infrastructure, and distinguished services.

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the patron of the conference, said: “Dubai continues its efforts and initiatives to bring decision-makers and experts in the field of accessible tourism under one roof, fostering collaboration, sharing best practices, and showcasing to the world its exceptional efforts in supporting this significant segment of the local and international communities. It also highlights the achievements of the UAE as a leading country where people with disabilities are given special priority.”

His Highness added, “The UAE is on the path to becoming the world’s best destination for tourism services, and I call for international efforts to ensure the provision of easily accessible tourism for over a billion people around the world.”

The summit aims to shed light on the needs of this segment during their travel and movement from one place to another, and thus work to provide them to make the places and facilities that they use or go to, such as hotels, resorts, airports, transportation and communication, shopping centres, beaches, parks, and museums, available to them and meet their needs.

Ghassan Suleiman, Secretary-General of the Conference, said: “The tourism industry needs more than ever to adopt the concept of accessible tourism that meets the aspirations of millions of people with Special Needs, from the moment they think about embarking on a tourist trip until the moment they reach the intended destination and return from it. This is based on the application of a series of relevant legislation, smart solutions and applications, and distinguished services in the transportation, hospitality, and communications sectors, and qualified human competencies, in order to continue growth and double the size of this industry in the coming years.”

He added: “Stakeholders in the travel and tourism chain need to work together to remove obstacles to travel, especially in light of international support for the rights of this segment to smooth movement.”

According to estimates by the European Network for Accessible Tourism, the amount of lost opportunities in the global tourism industry amounts to about 142 billion euro annually, in addition to the provision of millions of new job opportunities, due to the reluctance of tens of millions to move and travel due to the lack of appropriate services for this wide segment of tourists who have the right to enjoy. They enjoy a vacation free of hassles, and they have enormous financial capabilities that they look forward to spending to enjoy the joys of life.