Law 2005-102 of February 11, 2005 for ” equal rights and opportunities, participation and citizenship of people with disabilities “ , sets the principle of generalized accessibility, integrating all disabilities, whether they are from physical, visual, auditory or mental order. 

Article 2 of this Law specifies that “Every disabled person has the right to solidarity from the whole of the national community which guarantees him, by virtue of this obligation, access to the fundamental rights recognized to all citizens as well as full exercise of citizenship. ” These are all more than 600,000 ERP (establishments receiving the public) who are concerned with compliance with accessibility standards, and at the latest by 1 st January 2015. They had therefore 10 years since the enactment of the Law, to adapt their offer. The hotels are part of it, 80% are small establishments classified in the 5 th grade.

Some preconceived ideas circulate on the subject of accessibility in the hotel industry, including that of believing that People with Reduced Mobility (PRM) should be able to choose any room – fitted out for them -, in the name of equal rights. In reality, hotels must have 1 room for disabled people when there are less than 20 rooms in the establishment, 2 rooms with up to 50 keys and 1 additional room for each fraction of 50 keys. The number of parking spaces for disabled people must be 5% of all spaces available to visitors, bearing in mind that this must always be rounded up to the next higher unit.

What changes strongly: the specific rooms will no longer be placed in priority on the ground floor . If not, the elevators will need to be adjusted. More precisely by reading the regulatory texts, we understand that disabled people should be able to benefit from rooms in floors, always in the name of equal rights. The problem is that if we can admit without souciller a person with a mobility impairment may wish to have a room at the 4 thfloor of a hotel with a beautiful view (while people with reduced mobility were often parked in rooms in poorly developed “areas”), this requirement contradicts fire safety regulations. A disabled person must be able to be evacuated quickly in the event of a disaster, which is less difficult on the ground floor than on the upper floors … The administration therefore contradicts itself in its requirements.

More broadly, the Accessibility Act applicable in 2015 imposes more precise, broader and more varied development constraints than the 1975 Act. It adapts to more handicaps, including motor, hearing, visual and cognitive impairments. . In hotels, this concerns the car park, access to the building, the reception (including the arrangement of a lowered part of the reception desk), the elevator, corridors, stairs, bedrooms and any other place. open to customers.

Only 3 disabled people for 1,000 customers 

In France, there are about 5% of disabled people and 30% of aging population. More particularly for the hotel industry, if an ergonomic adaptation of equipment for the elderly would already ideally be put in place, many questions arise in the field of reception of PRMs. Because if there are 2 million people with reduced mobility in France, they would only be about 1/4 to travel and choose tourist accommodation. More specifically, PRMs only represent between 0.2% and 0.3% of French hotel customers (source Coach Omnium studies), including French and foreigners, i.e. around 3 customers per 1,000. And again, not all of these people use a wheelchair – only about 2/3 do – and do not necessarily need complex arrangements in the building.

From the outset, hoteliers do their accounts (or will do them) and realize that they will have very significant investments to make, difficult to make profitable , for ultimately a very small number of affected customers . The oldest hotels are of course the first to be affected by a complex and expensive development of their offer.

Among the solutions which are circulating and which are more and more proposed is that of having in each destination only one or a few hotels perfectly equipped for PRMs, instead of all. They would of course be flagged and highlighted. One can imagine that this option would be reasonable, but that it also risks being complicated to organize and above all being considered as discriminatory, since PRMs no longer have a freedom of choice . To see oneself, for example, placed in a converted hotel in an industrial zone while there are in a neighboring seaside resort hotels on the seafront would be enough to frustrate more than one disabled customer.       

The big question remains: should we put, in the name of national solidarity, very many hotels at risk because they will not be able to finance the work necessary to respect the law, for a clientele that does not come and will only come little, if at all, in these establishments? Are these not very unproductive investments? And can the necessary equality of rights and opportunities for people with disabilities – which no one probably wants to question – can lead to unequal opportunities and rights for independent hoteliers, with the consequence of permanently closing down ‘a large number of hotels, being unable to adapt their building to this audience?

This second regulatory wave “will kill” more hotels even than the first of the Fire Safety, with hoteliers unable to finance such work imposed by the administration. Especially since these investments are not a real added value, do not generate turnover and are not visible. Their financing comes at the expense of comfort and customer service. Enough to make them flee even faster …

The Committee for the Modernization of French Hotels believes that the debate must begin on this subject as soon as possible. 7 years have already passed without this evolving into in-depth and useful reflection.

• Read ” Download New-regulatory-accessibility-and-fire-safety-devices “.

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