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Accessible Tourism enables people with access requirements, including mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive impairments, to function independently and with dignity through the delivery of universally designed tourism products, services and environments. This includes all people including those travelling with children in prams, people with disabilities and senior citizens.

"Accessible tourism is about making it easy for all people to enjoy tourism experiences irrespective of age, gender or physical status".


The Universal Accessibility Declaration is a commitment to the implementation of UA principles by role players in the broader tourism value chain to achieve the following objectives:

  • Provide the same choices for all travel consumers;
  • Ensure full participation of persons with disabilities (including the elderly and families with children);
  • Protection of the individual's right to travel with dignity; and
  • Encourage tourism practitioners to include the principle of universal access to tourism infrastructure, products and services, Tourism master plans, policies and programmes.

Universal Accessibility Declaration


Universal Access (UA) in Tourism has been identified by the Department of Tourism as an important initiative to enhance South Africa's competitiveness to be one of the Top 20 tourism destinations by 2020. This inspired the development of a Framework for UA in a City Destination in 2011. The purpose of the framework is to provide the tourism sector, municipalities and all the interest groups with a blueprint that can be used towards achieving a Universally Accessible city destination.

As part of the implementation of the Framework, the Directorate: Responsible Tourism secured commitment from one City Destination to pilot the Framework. A self-assessment survey was sent to five cities namely; Johannesburg, Pretoria, East London, Cape Town and Durban. Once completed, the questionnaires were sent back to the Department for assessment.   Cape Town and Durban were selected to take part in the pilot project.

Consultations were held with each city, and both cities committed to appointing independent service providers who would develop tools that would be used to assess the attractions in each city excluding accommodation establishments.  To facilitate the UA assessment of accommodation establishments in Cape Town and Durban, the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) was engaged as they already have criteria for assessing accommodation establishments for UA compliance.

The piloting of the project comprised of two components:

  1. The assessment of identified tourism attractions/services and infrastructures within the 10 categories listed in the framework by the appointed service provider and;
  2. The assessment of a pre-selected group of accommodation establishments and conference facilities in both cities.

​​The Reports for the UA City Destination Pilot Project will be available once they are finalised.

Universal Accessibility City Destination



The Department of Tourism identified the need to develop a Report on the State of UA in Government Owned Provincial Parks. This was driven by the desire to attract events and conferences catering for people with special needs. The Accessible Tourism Market Study conducted by DTI in 2011 identifies UA as a niche market and recommends the development

The primary purpose of the study was to determine the State of UA in Government Owned Provincial Parks so as to inform the Department of the role they need to assume in the implementation of UA in Provincial Parks with the relevant stakeholders.

The objectives of the study were to increase access in Provincial Parks, encourage the design of Universally Accessible structures and facilities and to enhance South Africa's ability to compete favourably for events and conferences that require UA destinations.

Summary of the findings of the study:
  • There is a lack of awareness on Universal Accessibility and little has been done in implementing initiatives aimed at promoting UA
  • There are concerns around capacity and budgets to implement UA
  • Very few parks have been assessed by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa and even fewer have been assessed for UA
  • A lack of awareness, technical know-how and the costs associated with Universal Accessibility remain a challenge.
  • There is no employee training has been done on how to serve customers with special needs

Recommendations of the study

  • The development of an implementation plan detailing how the state of UA in Provincial Parks will be promoted.
  • Roll out of UA awareness workshops in all nine provinces.
  • Preparing funding proposals for specific interventions such as:
      • awareness programmes
      • conducting assessments
      • training of staff.
      • Infrastructure e.g. connecting rooms and pathways to be UA compliant


The Implementation Plan for UA in Government Owned Provincial Parks was developed in consultation with provincial stakeholders and will be made available once it has been approved. 

Final Report on the state of UA in Government Owned Provincial Parks-2014


The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA)

The mandate of the TGCSA is to grade tourism establishments. UA grading has now been integrated with and forms part of the st​​andard TGCSA grading criteria for all-star grading categories of accommodation and conference facilities.