With nearly a billion people estimated to live with some form of disability, the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day is accessible tourism for all.
On Sept 27, the world is reminded that the planet’s natural beauty and diversity shouldn’t be exclusive to the able-bodied and that everyone benefits from universal accessibility in tourism.
“Most of us will develop some form of disability at some stage, and sooner or later we will have specific access requirements to tourism infrastructures, services and products,” reads a report prepared by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
It’s been estimated that the percentage of Australian tourists with disabilities is about 11% of the total number of tourists, while 12% of domestic travellers in the UK were found to have a disability or long-term health problem, points out the UNWTO. The British travellers with disabilities also spent more money and logged more overnight stays away from home than the average traveller.
Studies in the US have also shown that American adults with disabilities or reduced mobility spend an average of US$13.6bil (RM56.2bil) annually.
Not only is accessible tourism a human rights imperative, but the UNWTO points out that it presents business opportunities for tourism players, particularly when it comes to meeting the needs of the world’s ageing population who have disposable income to spend and nothing but time on their hands.
“Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement.
“Yet one billion people around the world living with disability, along with young children, seniors and persons with other access requirements, still face obstacles in accessing fundamentals of travel such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate. Even with modern technologies, those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments are being left behind in many tourism destinations.”
The UNWTO recommends including tourists with disabilities in promotional materials; using Braille, sign language and other augmentative ways to communicate with persons with disabilities; including accessible routes and walkways; and assigning a reasonable number of rooms to guests with special needs. – AFP Relaxnews