Seoul to make tourism accessible for persons with disabilities
Asia-Pacific, Built Environment, August 28 2017
The Seoul Metropolitan Government vowed Tuesday to make tourism resources in the capital equally accessible to people with physical disabilities.
During a press conference, the city announced it will spend 15.2 billion won ($13.3 million) over the next five years starting from next year to improve infrastructure and communication and train personnel to accommodate them.
“So far, tourism policy was focused on attracting foreigners. But getting local people’s quality of life is equally important,” an official said. “These measures aren’t just for people with disabilities. As we get older, travel gets more difficult. I hope with these measures, more people will enjoy the city.”
The capital’s 390,000 residents are with disabilities and 1.3 million people are older than 65 years.
Among the measures, the most eye-catching one is a financial support to hotels and restaurants in the city’s most famous tourist destinations for renovation that would make them wheelchair accessible. The goal is to renovate 100 buildings until 2022, not so many but a meaningful number as a start.
The city will also provide people in wheelchair with special tour vehicles to get them around. There are special vehicles currently, but none for tourism purpose only.
The city will also spend money on making special city tour guidebooks, both offline and online, intended to provide relevant information.
Scheduled to open next year, the city’s new tourism support center will be where people with disabilities can find all the service they need about traveling in Seoul.
The city will also train more tour guides who will understand their needs. Currently, Seoul has eight such tour guides.
The city said it will also revise a city government’s ordinance to oblige hotels to make 2 percent of their rooms wheelchair accessible, up from current 0.5 percent.