The European tourism sector faces challenges of increasing global competition and demands for sustainable and higher quality products and services, with greater value for customers.
One of the key areas where the tourism sector can improve its competitiveness and increase market share is in "accessible tourism", catering especially for disabled persons, senior travellers and their families. EU studies have shown that the market size for accessible tourism in Europe is at least 127 million persons (OSSATE, 2006). Yet the demand far outweighs the present market supply. In addition to the economic incentive for tourism providers to make their tourism products and services accessible for all visitors, the EU has signed up to the 'UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People 2006', which points to the requirement of 'access to tourism and leisure' (art. 30). This signals the political imperative of enabling disabled citizens in the EU to participate fully in tourism. Tourism training programmes will play a vital role in preparing managers and employees to deliver their services in appropriate ways, respecting not only the diversity of customers' access needs but also specific requirements related to disabilities or long-term health conditions.
ETCAATS is a two-year, transnational project, running from 1st October 2009 to 31 December 2011.
The project has two main aims:
- To develop an on-line training course in accessible tourism from existing innovative content selected from previous Swedish work and supplemented with other international training materials; and
- To develop a ‘Road map’ for an EU certification system for the area of accessible tourism vocational training, in line with the European Qualifications Framework.
These aims are pursued in parallel so as to enhance the validity and quality of both streams of activity. The on-line training course will serve as one example of the type of courseware which should be offered to tourism providers. Further modules created by ETCAATS and partner organisations will be offered later.
The requirements of EU Certification of professional training in Accessible Tourism will be defined and developed with ETCAATS partners and stakeholders, leading to a Europe-wide certificate, authorised by the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT).
The ETCAATS project aims to have a direct impact on the tourism sector by enabling tourism providers, who have taken the course, to make their offers accessible for visitors who are looking for such facilities and services. The project will make a direct contribution to national vocational training for the tourism sector by providing an online resource which can be directly used in teaching and learning by training institutions. The certification of accessible tourism training will enhance the importance and relevance of catering for disabled and older persons in the tourism sector, which in turn will help Europe meet its obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention of Equal Opportunities of Persons with Disabilities, 2006.
The project will investigate training requirements and develop e-Learning content, leading to an on-line training programme and a common European certification framework for staff training in accessible tourism services.
The ETCAATS partners will adapt innovative pilot training schemes and materials developed by project partners themselves and by others in previous Leonardo, National and Regional projects. A modular system for training and certification will be developed, taking into account:
- The access needs of customers,
- Knowledge, skills and competences needed by trainees,
- The current state of the art in hospitality and tourism service training, and
- The European Qualifications Framework.
The ETCAATS partners will work with ENAT and tourism sector stakeholders to propose a feasible certification programme for European, national, regional and local vocational training systems.
Pilot testing will take place with trainees from social partners and companies, including at least 3 small and medium-sized tourism enterprises (SMEs) in each participating country.
A tested model of the ETCAATS Training Course, offered via an online training environment, will provide a standard for a transferable qualification for the tourism sector, based on modular and extendable courseware.
The training framework and tools will provide a Europe-wide reference for management and staff training courses in accessible tourism.
The project will lay the foundation for a European Training Certificate of access training in the tourism sector.
The ETCAATS project is supported through the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme, "Leonardo da Vinci", Transfer of Innovation. Agreement number : LLP-LDV/TOI/SE/09/1194.
ETCAATS is conducted under the supervision of
the Swedish Lifelong Learning Programme Management Office.