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Airbnb aims to improve accessibility for tourists with disabilities in Costa Rica

Woman sits on wheelchair next to swimming pool

Airbnb and Costa Rica Tourism have partnered to promote accessible tourism for travelers with disabilities.

A collaborative agreement has been signed with the National Council of People with Disabilities (Conapdis) and the Costa Rican Accessible Tourism Network.

Topics of collaboration include: promoting development on the Airbnb platform and examining the promotion of Costa Rica as a market for accessible travel, trainings hosts in accessibility standards and awareness in respect of the rights of people with disabilities.

As part of these efforts, two educational workshops for Airbnb hosts have already been run jointly with Conapdis and the Costa Rican Network of Accessible Tourism. General accessibility was discussed and participants were taught how to make their spaces inclusive for all travelers, irregardless of abilities. The workshops were attended by approximately 200 Airbnb hosts.

“A sustainable destination like Costa Rica must have accessible tourism options. For this reason, there must be different accommodation options that adjust to people’s needs so that they can enjoy all the beauties that Costa Rica offers, regardless of any condition. And this is the commitment that Airbnb has signed with both Conapdis and the Costa Rican Accessible Tourism Network,” said Carlos Muñoz, Airbnb’s director of Public Affairs.

“Promoting and working on universal accessibility in tourist destinations benefits Costa Ricans, the economy, and national and international tourists. Tourist accessibility allows all people with or without disabilities to enjoy the wide range of services, attractions and destinations that our beautiful country offers on equal terms,” said Stephanie Sheehy, Director of the Costa Rican Accessible Tourism Network.

“Positioning Costa Rica as an accessible destination is a strategic priority to contribute to the economic reactivation so necessary for the tourism sector, but above all it is a commitment of a country that respects Human Rights towards people with disabilities, who like the the rest of the population have the right to leisure and recreation.

In addition, since according to the 2018 National Survey on Disability, 670,640 people over 18 years of age with a disability live in Costa Rica, this group together with foreign tourists who visit us represents a large market share to improve the economy, generate employment and project the country worldwide,” added Francisco Azofeifa Murillo, executive director of Conapdis Costa Rica.

Muñoz said that Airbnb will provide their Costa Rican hosts every opportunity to learn how to improve experiences of every guest. Airbnb will supply materials and experts on how to make their spaces more accessible for people with disabilities.

This will also be complemented by the filters that Airbnb has on its platform to make it easier for people with disabilities to locate accommodations suitable to their specific needs, whether that be houses and apartments without steps, entrances wide enough for a wheelchair, elevators, showers with a chair, etc.

According to the World Health Organization, more than a billion people around the world live with a disability. Of these, nearly 200 million face barriers, preventing them from taking part in daily activities. This figure represents about 15% of the world’s population. In Costa Rica, the most recent National Survey on Disability (2018) determined that there are 18.2% of people over age 18 with disabilities. This is equivalent to 670,640 people, of which 60.9% are women and 39.1% are men.

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