With so much mainstream media attention focused on autism in the past several years, it’s surprising more tourist destinations aren’t doing all they can to accommodate visitors on the autism spectrum. For parents, vacation planning can be a nightmare as they seek out attractions that are fun while remaining mindful of their childrens’ needs. And that’s what makes the recent efforts at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta so remarkable.
Georgia Aquarium is now the first aquarium in the world to earn a CAC — Certified Autism Center — designation from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), signifying that the nonprofit facility fully caters to the needs of those on the autism spectrum.
“Georgia Aquarium is dedicated to providing our guests with an exceptional experience that allows them to connect with the wonders of the aquatic world,” says Georgia Aquarium Vice President of Guest Experience and Hospitality Anthony Rivera. “We are thrilled to be leading the zoo and aquarium industry through our commitment to making our facility friendly for families with children on the spectrum. We look forward to applying this training and working to provide the best possible experience for all of our guests with the ultimate goal of inspiring awareness and preservation of our ocean and aquatic animals worldwide.”
IBCCES also hosts AutismTravel.com, a free website that lists certified destinations and offers other resources to families that want to enjoy travel while making sure their loved one on the autism spectrum has a quality experience.
“Our goal is to partner with the leading travel destinations in the world to create safe, sensory-compatible travel options for parents and individuals on the spectrum,” explains IBCCES Board Chairman Myron Pincomb. “Our Certified Autism Center designation is awarded to premier organizations around the globe who have completed rigorous training and meet the highest industry standards.”
IBCCES offers training and certification to the travel and hospitality industries. To date they’ve certified tourist destinations all over the globe and have offered training to professionals in several fields. But Georgia Aquarium is the first aquarium in the world to earn their CAC certification.