Myanmar is now open for travel by travelers with disabilities and senior travelers, claimed Myanmar Accessible Tourism Center (MATC) which is pioneering barrier free travel in the country.
MATC recently conducted a sponsored tour program in major destinations in Myanmar in collaboration with a French wheelchair blogger, I Wheel Travel.
Dr. Lu Mon, founder of MATC, said “The press trip was intended to validate our accessible tour program and also to analyze the accessibility level of destinations, hotels and transportations from point of view of an experienced tourist in wheelchair.”
“In Yangon portion of the trip, we were able to utilize the service of tourist guide who was trained for disability inclusion training by MATC. It is truly encouraging.” said Dr. Su Myat Sandi Oo, co-founder of MATC and director of Mira Travels, parent organization of MATC.
The blogger visited Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Ngwe Saung Beach in a carefully crafted 10-day program. A number of hotels participated in the trip as accommodation sponsors.
“Our hotel partners see the trip as a wonderful way to promote their accommodations in a sustainable manner. Hoteliers will become more aware to the needs of persons with disabilities. We truly thank our sponsors and we will recommend those accommodations for our special tourists.” said Sandi.
“There are many challenges remained here for barrier free tourism in Myanmar. We can only accept certain type of travelers with disabilities. But I do believe we made a good start.” said Dr. Lu Mon.
From the initiative of the ONCE Foundation, the Spanish Association for Standardization (UNE) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the first working meeting for the development of an International Standard on Accessible Tourism for All was held in Madrid on 13-14 February.
The Technical Committee TC 228, responsible for tourism and related services within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), will develop a global and transversal international standard that will include, initially, a systematic inventory of existing standards, technical criteria, recommendations and requirements in the field of accessible tourism. In addition, recommendations and requirements will be suggested for those segments of the value chain and related activities whose international standardization in terms of accessibility is still pending.
The future standards will be called “ISO 21902 Tourism and related services—Tourism for all—Requirements and recommendations”. In terms of scope, the new standard will set clear guidelines for tourism planning and destination management.
According to Jesús Hernández, Director of Universal Accessibility and Innovation of the ONCE Foundation, the new standard will be “a lever to promote Design for All in such an important economic sector as tourism at the world level. In many cases persons with disabilities cannot exercise their rights to leisure and the enjoyment of culture and tourism. This is discrimination. In addition, from an economic point of view, tourism activity that is designed for all people represents a source of wealth creation”.
For his part, Márcio Favilla, UNWTO Executive Director, emphasized that universal accessibility is a right and a business opportunity for destinations and companies: “Accessible tourism is the answer to everyone’s universal right to travel and discover the world. At the same time, it is an opportunity for the tourism industry to capture a global marketplace that includes millions of people with disabilities, seniors, families with young children and many others who encounter numerous barriers, both physical and cultural, when travelling.”
Javier García, Director of Standardization of the Spanish Association for Standardization (UNE), stated that “technical standards are documents available to all, which contain the consensus of all parties related to globally-accepted good practices, helping organizations to establish their criteria for action. Currently, the Spanish catalogue contains 75 standards and draft standards that establish the accessibility requirements in many areas, benefiting persons with disabilities and their families, as well as society in general”. UNE is the entity responsible for the development of technical standards in Spain and is the national representative at international and European standardization bodies.
To date, the working group established under ISO TC228 has representatives from Panama, Austria, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Portugal, Argentina, Malta, Canada, Ireland and Spain, as well as representatives of associations such as ENAT (European Network of Accessible Tourism), HOTREC (European Association of Hotels, Restaurants and Cafés), ECTAA (European Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agents), SBS (Small Business Standards, the European association representing SMEs in standardization), and ANEC (the European consumer association for standardization)
The new standard, which is expected to be approved in 2018 after reaching consensus at the ISO level and promulgated during 2019, will be applied to the different stakeholders of the tourism sector, both public and private and at different levels.
PHILIPPINES: Stakeholders in the tourism industry, transport sector, tour guides and other concerned sectors in the region will convene on Tuesday, November 15, in Zamboanga City for a seminar on “How to Handle Persons with Disabilities” in the tourism industry.
Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar said the activity is organized by the National Council on Disability Affairs in partnership with the Department of Tourism.
She said the activity is intended to promote the government’s National Tourism Development Plan and other equally important laws and mandate on disability among duty bearers and stakeholders in the tourism industry in order to attain the goals on Accessible Tourism for All.
She said the other participants include government tourism officials who spearhead the implementation of tourism programs in the region including the representatives of disabled people’s organizations in the region and the local media.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As Kerala joins the rest of the world to celebrate World Tourism Day with the theme ‘Tourism for All — Promoting Universal Accessibility’ on Tuesday, the State is nowhere near the UNWTO goal of ‘Tourism for All’ agenda and in the development of accessible tourism infrastructure, products and services.
Even after earning a name in the world tourism map, the needs of those with vision, hearing, mobility or cognitive disabilities have not been addressed in the tourism destinations in the State. Properties with three-star grade and above have basic facilities for the disabled to get the classification tag of Tourism Ministry. Houseboats have started providing easy access to those arriving in wheel-chairs.
But the destinations lack facilities for the leisure and recreation needs of people with disabilities. Kovalam, which fetched Kerala a name in the tourism map, is yet to have even a ramp. Lack of toilets for people with reduced mobility, unhygienic condition of the available ones, absence of public utilities such as telephone, water tap, etc., at convenient places, lack of access to stairs/lifts, slippery or coarse tracks also hampers the movement of the disabled.
The planners have also failed to realise the potential of tourists with reduced mobility. “We have a great distance to go. We have not given due importance to access tourism. Some products such as houseboats have started adapting to the needs of people with disabilities” admits Principal Secretary, Tourism, V. Venu.
“Rudimentary work had been done in museums and monuments. Building a ramp is not a solution. Access audit is needed to address the problem. Our resolve is to work on it,” he said.
This year’s official celebrations of World Tourism Day will be held under the UNWTO at Bangkok. Kerala Tourism and the stake-holders of the industry have organised various programs to observe the day.
Noting the obstacles that persons with disabilities or those with other access requirements face in taking advantage of fundamental aspects of travel, senior United Nations officials today urged policy-makers, travel planners and companies that work with persons with disabilities to work together to make travel more accessible.
“Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message on World Tourism Day. He added, however: “Even with modern technologies, those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments are being left behind in many tourism destinations.”
According to the message, while almost 1.2 billion people are travelling aboard each year, close to one billion persons with disability, along with young children, older persons and persons with other access requirements, still face obstacles in accessing the most basic travel needs such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate.
“Tourism has become a powerful economic sector, a passport to prosperity and peace, and a transformative force improving millions of lives,” noted Mr. Ban, underlining that benefits of accessible tourism will not only provide an important market opportunity, it will help ensure that all people are able to participate in tourism and enjoy unforgettable travel experiences.
The theme for this year’s World Tourism Day is Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility.
In a separate message, Taleb Rifai, the Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the specialized UN agency that works for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism, highlighted that travelling has become a major part in many lives and said that with the world’s population ageing, everyone sooner or later will benefit from universal accessibility in tourism.
“As we celebrate World Tourism Day, let us recall that all of the world’s citizens have the right to experience the incredible diversity this planet has to offer,” he said, urging all countries and destinations, as well as the tourism industry, to promote accessibility for all.
In September 2015, the UNWTO’s general assembly designated Thailand as host country for the 2016 World Tourism Day. As the host, the South-east Asian country will partner with the UN agency to celebrate the occasion.
In her own message, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand, said that in addition to understanding the needs of everyone, considering the environment impact of tourism is equally important.
“As the world of travel and tourism is an expanding industry and the number of travellers increases every year, we have to ensure that travelling the world has to be safe and seamless at its utmost,” she said.
In 1979, the UNWTO General Assembly decided to institute the World Tourism Day to be commemorated every year on 27 September, the anniversary of the adoption of the UNWTO Statutes, to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.
Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok will host World Tourism Day 2016, which has the theme of “Tourism for All: Promoting Universal Accessibility”, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
This year’s theme aims to raise people’s awareness on the importance of tourism, and its impacts on social, cultural, political and economic affairs, said UNWTO through a press release from the Madrid-headquartered office in Spain.
Discussing tourism accessibility, both United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai highlighted that everyone is equal in accessing tourism and recreational activities.
“Therefore, it is highly important that all countries and destinations, as well as the industry, promote accessibility for all in the physical environment, in transport systems, in public facilities and services and in information and communications channels”, said Rifai.
World Tourism Day 2016 in Bangkok on September 27 will see a series of events, and a seminar for insiders to discuss the implementation of “Tourism for all” agenda.
MADRID: Tourism for all: people with disabilities, senior citizens and families travelling with small children, and sooner or later all citizens will appreciate the advantages of universal accessibility. This is why United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has chosen to celebrate World Tourism Day 2016 on the theme of accessible tourism. Official celebrations will take place on 27 September in Bangkok, Thailand.
For the last quarter–century World Tourism Day, held annually on 27 September, has aimed to foster awareness of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic impact. This year’s official celebrations will be held in Bangkok, Thailand on the theme of ‘Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility’.
Reaching universal accessibility in tourism is a shared responsibility of all parties involved in the tourism value chain, as well as a business opportunity for companies and destinations.
“Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis. Yet 1 billion 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 travel such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate. Even with modern technologies, those with vision, hearing, mobility or cognitive disabilities are being left behind in many tourism destinations.” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in his official message.
“All of the world’s citizens have the right to experience the incredible diversity this planet has to offer. Therefore, it is highly important that all countries and destinations, as well as the industry, promote accessibility for all in the physical environment, in transport systems, in public facilities and services and in information and communications channels”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.
“This year’s theme, ‘Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility’, is a challenge for Thailand and the world to recognize the necessity of accessibility in tourism and to accommodate everyone anywhere they may travel to (…) We have to understand the theory of Universal Design (…) As the world of travel and tourism is an expanding industry and the number of travelers increases every year, we have to ensure that travelling the world has to is as safe and seamless as possible,” explained Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand.
The official celebrations include a ‘Tourism and the Media’ session held on 26th September at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, and a full-day conference the following day. During the event, experts on accessibility and tourism will exchange views and best practices, addressing the need to work in cooperation to advance in the ‘Tourism for All’ agenda.
Creating an adequate policy framework for specific business development strategies, the need to increase awareness and capacity building targeting both decision makers and tourism professionals are some of the topics to be addressed during the conference. Andrew Stevens, Asia Pacific Editor of CNNMoney, will moderate this discussion.
The conference will also address innovative strategies in the development of accessible tourism infrastructure, products and services which add value to destinations and enhance their competitiveness on the global tourism market. A number of best practices will be featured with the aim of emphasizing the value of investing in accessibility.
MALAWI: Employees of the Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA) have demanded accessible tourism for persons with disabilities to make tourist destinations accessible.
The failure to align the tourism attractions with the Constitution as well as the Disability Act came clear on Saturday when the Department of Tourism shuttled people with disabilities from Macoha headquarters in Blantyre to Majete Wildlife Reserve.
At the home of the big five, sightseers, who use wheelchairs and clutches, grappled with steep steps to access a restaurant, toilets, swimming pool and other vital spots as the majority of the buildings in the middle of the picturesque jungle have no disability-friendly passageways.
Speaking in interviews at the place, some of the excluded visitors said they were happy to visit the wildlife reserve for the first time in their lifetime, but decried that “being carried on the lap of helpers as babies” was humiliating and in violation of their freedom of movement.
After an hour-long game drive complete with sights of elephants and other smaller animals, Thaddeus Matera said: “This was supposed to be a memorable experience for most of us, for I have lost about 48 years without visiting any of the game reserves that I learnt in school. However, those who run these facilities can do better to ensure all parts of the park are accessible to all.”
Regional tourism officer (South) Christine Chimangeni said the plight of the father of four, who has been confined to a wheelchair since age three when he survived polio, highlighted the need for all tourism facilities to ensure no one is excluded.
She said: “We took our colleagues to Majete to offer them an opportunity to sample the country’s tourism product. Surely, there is need for all players in the industry to put in place accessible infrastructure to make sure their facilities are accessible to all.”
Reacting to the concerns, Majete Wildlife Reserve heritage site manager Jackson Vega said the shocking experience was an eye-opener for the institution which receives clients with disabilities once in a while.
The ‘Tourism for All” tour was part of the National Tourism Month in the count down to the World Tourism Day on September 27 which focuses on promoting accessibility for all.
RIO DE JANEIRO: Interim Tourism Minister, Alberto Alves, and Embratur president, Vinícius Lummertz, will join a press conference this Thursday (8 September) at 10 am at Rio Media Center to unveil Accessible Tourism actions adopted by the Federal Government to attract more visitors with disabilities or reduced mobility.
During the interview, the government will introduce publications prepared for tourists and businesspeople in the sector to facilitate the preparation of itineraries suitable for persons with disabilities and improve quality of service at tourist establishments. One such initiative is the Accessible Tourism app, a collaborative accessibility platform available in Portuguese, English and Spanish.