Asia-pacific conference on tourism or people with disability: Barrier-free tourism for people with disabilities in the ESCAP region
Tourism is a rapidly growing industry in the Asian and Pacific region and people with disabilities and older persons are becoming a growing group of consumers of travel, sports, and other leisure-oriented products and services.
Thus large numbers of people require tourism to be made barrier-free. Indeed, good access will benefit not only people with disabilities, but also many other members of the community, especially senior citizens.
Although the number of tourists who would benefit from accessible facilities and services are on the increase, most tourism providers have still not yet recognized the importance of taking action on this issue.
People with disability have a right to, and do want to enjoy travel leisure experiences. However, their travel experiences are still characterized by transportation constraints, inaccessible accommodation and tourism sites, and inadequate customer services.
If professionals of tourism industry are to succeed in accessing these potential new markets, they must understand the needs involved and learn how to respond to these challenges for the benefit of both the tourism industry and people with disabilities.
One crucial element in meeting this goal is the existence of a legal framework, which ensures that persons with disabilities have the right to access tourism facilities and services and to encourage tourism professionals to adopt related measures.
It is also essential that the tourism industry improve its service to people with disabilities Notwithstanding the number of initiatives already pursued by countries in the Asian and Pacific region to make tourism barrier-free for people with disabilities.
There are three key issues that require immediate attention.
(a) The formulation and implementation of related legislation in order to protect the right of persons with disabilities to accessible facilities and environment;
(b) Education and training on awareness and sensitivity to disability issues; and
(c) Provision of accessible facilities in the tourism sector.