Universal accessibility refers to the design of products and services that are accessible to all people. It ensures that all individuals, regardless of their socio-economic class, ethnicity or physical disability, have equal access to services and products for their benefit.
“Tourism is open for all to enjoy; however, persons living with disabilities still face challenges such as inaccessible hotel and accommodation establishments,” said Kotze-Nhlapo.
This issue was once again highlighted on International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD), observed on 3 December.
This annual occasion creates awareness of issues related to the lack of accessible services to people with impairments. It aims to promote the rights and well-being of those with disabilities in all spheres of society and development.
The United Nations declared the theme for this year’s IDPD as “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-Covid-19 world”.
According to the World Report on Disability, released by the World Health Organization, it is estimated that over one billion people – about 15% of the world’s population – live with disabilities.
In addition, more than two billion people are the spouses, children or caregivers of people with disabilities.
According to Kotze-Nhlapo, this year’s IDPD aimed to highlight the fact that people with disabilities are among the most marginalised and discriminated against population.
“As a tourism industry we need to pull together for more meaningful investments into the socio-economic building blocks,” said Kotze-Nhlapo.
“This will reduce the barriers that prevent persons living with disabilities from travelling.”