Nagaland government aims to improve tourism accessibility
Asia-Pacific, Tourism, September 28 2016
KOHIMA, INDIA: In line with ‘Tourism for all: Promoting universal accessibility,’ the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day, the Nagaland Tourism Department today distributed wheelchairs to some hotels and home stays in Kohima to be used for guests.
It was handed over by Merentoshi R. Jamir, MLA and Advisor to the Chief Minister and Angau I. Thou, Secretary Tourism during the observance of World Tourism Day here today.
Thou said that tourism is not only an opportunity for the locals to generate money, it is also an opportunity for people to experience newness in environment, culture and food. She said this is a right of every person and cannot be limited to only certain social classes.
“The pleasure for travel should not be made exclusively for people who do not have any liabilities. This is inclusive of all people including those travelling with children in prams, people with disabilities and senior citizens,” she said.
“We must work to make tourism for all and make tourism a universal accessibility. Tourism for all includes people with disabilities, senior citizens and families travelling with small children.”
Stating that everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis, she however lamented that 1 billon 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 travels such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate.
She also said that even with modern technologies, those with vision, hearing, mobility or cognitive disabilities are being left behind in many tourism destinations.
Stating that all of the world’s citizens have the right to experience the incredible diversity this planet has to offer, she said “it is highly important that all countries and destinations, as well as the industries, promote accessibility for all in the physical environment, in transport systems, in public facilities and services and in information and communications channels.”
She said the accessible tourism market is part of every tourism market and effort should be made to make Nagaland accessible to all the tourists. The needs of visitors with disabilities and others who require accessible services and facilities should be considered as part of all tourism offers, she added.
Thou continued that accessible tourism enables people with access requirements, including mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive dimensions of access, to function independently and with equity and dignity through the delivery of universally designed tourism products, services and environments.
She further informed that Nagaland has the maximum inflow of tourists during the Hornbill festival. “Last year, we have had demonstrations that it is not accessible for people with disabilities. The accessibility challenges include multi-plinth levels with the morungs, stepped access to reach important area and the lack of accessible amenities and facilities,” Thou acknowledged.
“It is our endeavour to make Kisama more tourists friendly so that no person is deprived of the opportunity to experience our rich cultural extravaganza. We can do this by working on better accessible information and accessible infrastructure,” she said.
She also challenged the people to focus on social tourism. “Let us consciously promote tourism of all, that is ethical, and sustainable; physically, economically and socially accessible; and one that avoids all forms of discrimination,” she urged.
Jamir meanwhile was appreciative of the department for showing its concern to differently abled persons by providing wheelchairs to certain hotels and home stays in and around Kohima.
Stating that Nagaland has huge potential in tourism sector, he stressed on the need to give special emphasis on eco-tourism and bio-diversity. “We have to capitalize on that,” he said,
Appreciating the effort of the Tourism Department on tourism promotional activities, he said the department can become a major player in enhancing the economy of the state.
He also stressed on the need to build eco-friendly resorts in different parts of the state apart from permanent structures of tourist amenities.