The Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) is preparing an action plan aimed at providing accessibility to people with disabilities to enjoy their holidays in Cyprus, opening the door to a specialised tourism which is undoubtedly a big market, while also complying with Cyprus’ obligations as a member of the European Union.
In a conference on accessible tourism held on Tuesday, CTO stressed that accessibility constitutes a key right for all our fellow human beings, and is a moral obligation of both the state and the entire society.
Addressing the conference, CTO Deputy Director Annita Demetriades said that accessible tourism is not for a small group of people.
“In the EU, there are about 138 million people with increased accessibility needs, usually traveling for holidays during the low seasons. Accessible infrastructure and services give our island a positive image, enhance the quality of our tourist product and show our tangible respect for our fellow people,” she added.
According to data, in 2012 direct revenue from accessible tourism in the EU amounted to €352 billion, giving employment to 4.2 million people. Taking into account the multiplier effect, total turnover increases to €786 billion. Studies indicate that improving accessibility could lead to a 24.2% increase in demand and 18% increase in the spending of European tourists by 2020.
Demetriades noted that accessible tourism ensures more people get the opportunity to travel. “Undoubtedly Cyprus is an attractive tourist destination, so the tourist industry stands to get more visitors, who prefer to travel off-peak periods,” she said.
The CTO is creating the infrastructure on 37 beaches making swimming experience for people with disabilities more comfortable. Specifically, 11 of the 37 beaches are fully equipped for this purpose. In addition, the CTO now has a grant scheme for hotel units which upgrade their infrastructure to accommodate guests with disabilities.
Accessible tourism is the on-going endeavour to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age.