Americas Jan 30, 2012
ANTIGUA ST. JOHN’S: Head of the Centre for Disabilities Emelda Wade wants to see the government do more to boost “disability tourism” in Antigua & Barbuda.
She made the remarks while addressing a 16-member Canadian group with disabilities being hosted for the day. They arrived aboard the Serenade of the Seas this week and explored the beauty and cuisine of Antigua & Barbuda while discussing ways of developing closer ties with each other.
Wade said, “I think this is a plus for Antigua and Barbuda. We’ve had visits by a few persons with disabilities before who came via the cruise ship or plane, but this is our first visit with such a large delegation of 17 people with various types of disabilities, and we were very glad to have them.
“I think if the government would do more to enhance accessibility not only where transportation is concerned, but also to business places and other locations, it would boost the interests in travel among persons with disabilities to come to our beautiful island more often.”
She added, “It has always been a dream of mine to see ‘disability tourism’ grow in Antigua & Barbuda for people to be able to travel and accesses our services without difficulties.”
Also welcoming the tourists was a team from the Ministry of Tourism who commended the initiative and said they are looking forward to similar visits in the not-too-distant future. The ministry also presented the special guests with gifts and souvenirs.
The two para-transit vehicles and the disabilities’ centre coaster bus took the guests on a tour around the island. They visited the centre for disabilities on Factory Road, the historic Betty’s Hope, Nelson’s Dockyard, and Shirley’s Heights. They had lunch and a swim at O’J’s Restaurant.
During the visit to the centre, the tourists were entertained by the students and staff, purchased craft items, and identified areas of assistance and promised to return.
Wade said, “I wish this would be something that other groups and individuals would do as well. They group said they’ll be making plans to spend a week. They said their time here was enjoyable and phenomenal; they thoroughly enjoyed it, and we at the disabilities centre were invited to come to Canada as well.”
Last year, a tourist with disabilities who came on board one of the luxury cruise ships visited the centre and was taken on tour via one of the para-transit vehicles. He was so impressed with the experience that he shared the news with his colleagues, and contacted the tourism office in Canada to officially arrange a trip for them to come to Antigua.