International Conference on Accessible Adventure
Asia-Pacific, Events, Tourism, March 5 2018
POKHARA, NEPAL: The upcoming 3-day International Conference on Accessible Adventure (ICAA 2018) to be held on March 29‐31, 2018 at the Shangri‐La Village Resort in Pokhara, Nepal. The conference will focus on international best practices in inclusive tourism for “slow‐walker” seniors and travelers with disabilities relative leading to improved tourism facilities, services, and marketing that will attract a new segment of visitors to Nepal and provide new opportunities for Nepal’s disabled for business, employment, connectivity and experiencing the country’s wonders.
The ICAA 2018 theme – “Inspiration and Perspiration” – relates to the awareness, planning, commitment and collaboration necessary to make Nepal “The Accessible Adventure Capital of Asia.” Our keynote inspirational speaker will be Corporal Hari Budha Magar, Nepal’s famous Gurkha war-hero injured by an IED in Afghanistan. Hari will lead his Conquering Dreams team to scale Mt. Everest the first week of April 2018 “to show the world that any disability, any hardship, can be overcome.” Hari will be the first double-amputee above the knees to scale Mt. Everest bringing worldwide media attention to his climb and Nepal’s accessible adventure opportunities.
Conference Day opens with a “Light the Light” cultural tourism presentation followed by VIP introductory remarks and an insightful discussion of the Nepal accessible adventure mission. As mentioned, Cpl Hari Budha Magar will provide the opening “Conquering Dreams” inspirational keynote, followed by a series of speakers and panels throughout the day:
- Setting the Stage: Nepal’s Accessible Adventure Challenges
- Customers Voice: What do the Accessible Tourism Customers Need? How to Create Accessible Adventure Products?
- Best Business & Destination Models: Worldwide Best Practices in Accessible Adventure
- Nepal Application: Panel of Nepal Mayors that will detail their next steps to make their destinations more inclusive
Day Two the conference participants will inaugurate NEPAL’S FIRST ACCESSIBLE TREKKING TRAIL in the Pokhara /Sarangkot region, a project sponsored by DfID and the Nepal Tourism Bureau. Additional eco and adventure tours are scheduled with the participants engaged in rating their experience and providing solutions for product and service improvement.
Day Three, the ICAA executive committee and invited tourism experts will spend the day compiling the ICAA 2018 findings and recommendations to be presented in Kathmandu the following week. They are expecting about 50 international and 75 domestic participants at the conference.
Why ICAA 2018 Focuses on Accessible Adventure
Accessible adventure is a subset of accessible tourism focused on meeting the needs of “slow walker” seniors and the mobile disabled (this can include prosthetics, deaf, blind, cognitive, families, etc.). At this stage of development, Nepal’s resident and tourism infrastructure has very, very limited wheelchair transportation and general accessibility, so it would be irresponsible to promote to this segment until the necessary product and service improvements are made. IDI’s proposed strategic plan focuses first on assisting Pokhara to become the model accessible adventure destination for Nepal, then expanding this concept to other top Nepal tourism destinations.
The Long-Term Goal – Sustainable Tourism For All
Destinations throughout the world are making major commitments in planning, education and construction of inclusive infrastructure. The UNWTO recommends that accessibility for all to tourist facilities, products, and services should be a central part of any responsible and sustainable tourism policy. The US Forest Service example here for Washington State illustrates their commitment to accessible adventure, which includes statewide trail improvements and a detailed video information program. Through our pre-conference research, network of inclusive tourism experts, call for papers and conference presentations, ICAA 2018 will fine tune the world’s best practices for application to Nepal’s environment. ICAA 2018 will be the catalyst for funding and expertise to develop a practical, actionable and business-centric Nepal Accessible Adventure Strategic Plan.