Asia-Pacific Nov 26, 2015
ANGELES CITY, PHILIPPINES: The National Council for Disability Affairs (NCDA) and Department of Tourism (DOT) pitched for a tourism industry in Central Luzon that caters to the needs of persons with disabilities.
“The first step towards the realization of the Accessible Tourism for All goal is for everyone to know, understand, respect, and advocate persons with disabilities rights in the environment,” NCDA Acting Executive Director Carmen Zubiaga said during the one-day seminar on how to handle persons with disabilities in the tourism industry.
“What we need is massive sensitization in dealing with persons with disabilities. As stakeholders and duty bearers, we must understand that disability is human rights issue and at the same time a societal responsibility. With the fact that it is the environment that makes a person with disability, our role now is very critical to ensure that persons with disabilities are not discriminated and that they are included in various developmental projects,” Zubiaga said.
She also cited that accessibility is the key to enjoyment of persons with disabilities rights and their full participation in the society.
“Accessibility of built environment and transportation contribute to barrier-free tourism. This is a way of capturing the forgotten market segment. In this way, not only will persons with disabilities benefit from this strategy but economic opportunities will also blossom,” Zubiaga said.
For his part, NCDA Information, Education and Communication Division Chief Rizalio Sanchez discussed the key mandates on disability as well as the incentives for establishments and institutions that will abide by the provisions required by pertinent laws.
“There are incentives for providing special needs and service for PWDs. When you hire persons with disabilities in your establishment, you have 25% tax discount on salaries/wages for them and 50% tax incentive on repair for equipment and facilities intended for their use,” Sanchez said.
He also called for the continuous collaboration towards promoting an inclusive tourism for persons with disabilities and challenged everyone to look at the grey areas so they can recommend policies and guidelines to improve their well-being.
DOT Regional Director Ronnie Tiotuico echoed the discussion the ideal architectural structures of hotels and facilities for persons with disabilities.
Aside from the lectures, demonstrations on practical and appropriate ways of handling people with mobility, vision and hearing-disabilities were shown.
These include basic courtesies, handling their needs and such other concerns required by persons with disabilities.
Participants include representatives from the hotel, transport, resort, and travel and tour industries; disabled people’s organization; government offices who oversee the implementation of the tourism industry; and members of the media.