For families with children on the autism spectrum, traveling can sometimes prove difficult. Many popular tourism destinations don’t have autism-trained staff or the facilities equipped to handle autism-related issues or emergencies. However, these families might now be placing Mesa, Arizona, at the top of their travel list.
That’s because Mesa’s tourism is now managed by the country’s first-ever autism-certified destination marketing organization. This means that Mesa is now a “Certified Autism Center” according to the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) and will be specially equipped to welcome those with autism.
The certification comes after the Visit Mesa staff and governing board of directors completed specialized training, which equipped them with the expertise to assist families and individuals with special needs. This includes helping them plan their vacations to Mesa and providing individualized support and access.
Now that the Visit Mesa organization has become autism-certified, the city itself is taking major strides to continue the trend. Guest-facing staff in Mesa businesses — like hotels, museums, and other family attractions — are actively completing autism sensitivity and awareness training. Each business will be individually certified through IBCCES.
Marc Garcia, CEO of Visit Mesa, told AzFamily, “It’s simply acknowledging and understanding what some of the symptoms of autism and sensory disorder are. We wanted to get out in front of it. We wanted to be first. We wanted to be able to tell the world we are more than autism-friendly; we’re autism-certified.”