Accessible travel was awarded at the 2022 Japan Travel Awards, with the Fukushima Barrier Free Tour Center not only winning for Most Accessible, but also the Grand Prix and Media Popularity Awards!
With Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics came a discussion about the importance of inclusion and diversity. Realizing that this extends to the travel industry, the Japan Travel Awards were created as:
“an independent award initiative dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating remarkable destinations in Japan that demonstrate efforts in promoting diversity, inclusiveness, and transformational experiences through the prism of tourism.”
As such, the award categories included:
- Best LGBTQ+ Friendly
- Most Accessible
- Best Hospitality
- Best Sustainable
- Best Family Friendly
- Best Luxury
as well as a Grand Prix, Best Community, Most Unexpected Discovery and Media Popularity awards.
I was honored to be selected as a judge on the panel and Accessible Japan (my other site) was a media partner.
There were a number of entries into the accessibility category, ranging from accessible rickshaw rides to art to forrest therapy. It was a really tough choice! But, we felt that the Fukushima Barrier Free Tour Center was the best entry this year. They provide information and planning services in Fukushima that help travelers with disabilities enjoy their time in an often overlooked part of Japan, but also had an impact on their region by promoting accessibility, which of course then has an impact on those living in the community as the infrastructure becomes more accessible to everyone. They are also run by people with disabilities – empowering the staff to have a local and global impact using their experience with disability.
What brought tears to my eyes was the fact that it didn’t stop there. Their determination to create a more accessible community and welcome travelers with disabilities from around the world won the hearts of all the judges, and they also took home both the Media Popularity Award and the Grand Prix! Winning over well established brands from across Japan, they proved that accessible tourism is an essential part of the future of tourism and the best is yet to come!
A huge congratulations to Fukushima Barrier Free Tour Center. You deserve it.
And to everyone reading this, please consider visiting the Fukushima area the next time you are in Japan.
Follow the Fukushima Barrier Free Tour Center: https://www.fukushima-barrier-free.com/Published in