Created in the early 2000s, the state brand Tourism & Handicap aims to improve the quality of the French tourist offer for all. Anticipating the law of 2005, one of its objectives is then to respond to the challenges of demographic aging and to facilitate the accessibility of the greatest number of tourist services.
Today, the brand has nearly 4,000 certified establishments, based on an assessment that includes representatives of associations working in the field of all major families with disabilities and whose coordination with tourism professionals is ensured by I’Tourism & Handicap Association.
What is behind the Tourisme & Handicap brand?
The brand concerns all types of sites linked to tourism, whether accommodation, catering, activities, leisure and of course tourist offices. It includes the 4 main families of disabilities, namely disabilities, auditory, motor and visual.
It now has 4,000 labeled establishments, which have agreed to submit to an evaluation. In effect, ” The system is the only one whose establishments are listed on the basis of an assessment and not a simple declaration. It is a voluntary and demanding approach for professionals. “, specifies Luc Thulliez responsible for accessible tourism within the Directorate General for Enterprises (DGE) of the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty. This system therefore guarantees a high level of quality for users with disabilities.
Unfortunately, the number of labeled establishments has been falling in recent years, since the brand had some 5,500 in 2015. According to Joris Dumazer, Tourism for All project director at the DGE, this drop is partly explained by the because of the health crisis, either because certain establishments have closed, or because professionals have had other priorities than renewing their label, to ensure the continuation of their activity in the face of the crisis. The system is, moreover, poorly publicized despite the Accessible Tourism Trophies which allow each year to promote the most exemplary labeled sites. Communication is mainly provided by the brand’s association partners. Annette Masson, president of the Association Tourisme & Handicaps, the main platform for discussion between tourism service providers and representatives of disabled tourists, regrets the lack of resources allocated to this system, which is nevertheless ambitious and relevant in its design.
Establishments assessed by disability association representatives
” Despite the 2005 law which reaffirms the principle of generalized accessibility regardless of disability, especially in establishments open to the public, or public transport, there are still many projects that are being set up without even asking the opinion of people with disabilities. », laments Annette Masson.
However, the Tourism & Handicap system, prior to the 2005 law, had already fully integrated user participation into its operation. Indeed, the evaluation essential to obtain the mark is carried out by a pair of evaluators, including for each pair, a professional tourism representative from the ADN Tourisme federation, and a voluntary representative of associations working in the field of disability and organized within the Association Tourisme & Handicaps. Furthermore, it is this association that trains the volunteers involved in the establishment evaluation process. There is thus generally a pair in each department, which represents a little more than a hundred volunteers representing people with disabilities for all the assessments of the territory.
Training volunteers to become evaluators
Future assessors follow a 3-day training course covering the 4 main families of disability. ” The real difficulty is to ensure that volunteers do not represent, during evaluations, only their own handicap, which they obviously know better. In addition, not all volunteers are necessarily disabled. It can also be members of associations in the field of disability who are not themselves affected (relatives, supporters). “, explains Annette Masson. She regrets that volunteers do not have support for this training of evaluators, unlike tourism professionals who can benefit from the help of their professional training fund. Teaching, transport and accommodation costs for volunteers can be covered from the funds of the Tourisme et Handicaps association, with the help of the ANCV (national agency for holiday vouchers). The association also negotiates with local tourism representatives (departmental or regional tourism committee, or tourist offices), so that they bear the travel expenses of volunteer-evaluators.
Let’s hope that this well-designed system, which integrates user participation, can finally benefit from a deployment of means to meet the needs of people with disabilities who have all the difficulty in the world to move around and enjoy leisure and holidays. essential for everyone’s well-being. Remember that 12 million people in France are disabled and that this trend is increasing with the aging of the population.