Tourism for All, Pro­mot­ing Universal Ac­ces­si­bil­ity

Bhutan Times - - Home - Dorji Norbu

he Tourism Coun­cil of Bhutan cel­e­brated the World Tourism Day on 27th Septem­ber in the cap­i­tal. The World Tourism Day is an an­nual event cel­e­brated world­wide with dif­fer­ent theme ev­ery year and this year’s theme is “Tourism for All, Pro­mot­ing Universal Ac­ces­si­bil­ity”. The day is cel­e­brated to high­light and cre­ate aware­ness on tourism’s con­tri­bu­tion to so­cial, cul­tural, en­vi­ron­men­tal, po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic val­ues. It is also to high­light the op­por­tu­ni­ties that the tourism sec­tor pro­vides in em­pow­er­ing so­ci­eties across the globe. The United Na­tion World Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UNWTO) leads the cel­e­bra­tion.

A sem­i­nar on the theme “Tourism for All, Pro­mot­ing universal ac­ces­si­bil­ity was held at Terma Linca Re­sort or­ga­nized by the Tourism Coun­cil of Bhutan co­in­cid­ing with the day.

In a mes­sage read out at the work­shop UNWTO Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Tableb Ri­fai said that tourism has ex­pe­ri­enced a revo­lu­tion in the past 50 years. In 1950 there were 25 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional tourists; to­day there are around 1.2 bil­lion peo­ple trav­el­ling the world. Trav­el­ling has be­come a huge part of many lives.

“When trav­el­ling, we come across new peo­ple, new sights, and new ideas. Of­ten our per­cep­tion of the world changes as we see more of it. How­ever, we must not for­get that for many, trav­el­ling can be quite a dif­fi­cult process.” Tableb Ri­fai added.

The Sec­re­tary Gen­eral fur­ther said that with about 15% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion is es­ti­mated to live with some form of dis­abil­ity. That is 1 bil­lion peo­ple around the world who may be un­able to en­joy the priv­i­lege of know­ing other cul­tures, ex­pe­ri­ence na­ture at its fullest and ex­pe­ri­ence the thrill of em­bark­ing on a jour­ney to ex­plore new sights.

To ob­serve the day, TCB or­ga­nized a work­shop on un­der­stand­ing chal­lenges faced by peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in ac­cess­ing phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment, trans­porta­tion, in­for­ma­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and other ser­vices in­clud­ing both pub­lic re­sources and in­fras­truc­ture in Bhutan. Keep­ing their chal­lenges in mind, Tourism Coun­cil of Bhutan had pledged and would plan and pro­mote in­fra­struc­tures, which are ac­ces­si­ble for all in our fu­ture plans.

Ac­ces­si­ble Tourism for all is about the cre­ation of en­vi­ron­ments that can cater for the needs of all of us, whether we are trav­el­ling or stay­ing at home. May that be due to a dis­abil­ity, even tem­po­rary, fam­i­lies with small chil­dren, or the age­ing pop­u­la­tion, at some point in our lives, sooner or later, we all ben­e­fit of universal ac­ces­si­bil­ity in tourism.

The process among stake­hold­ers that 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 en­vi­ron­ment.

Per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties in­clude those who have long-term phys­i­cal, men­tal, in­tel­lec­tual, sensory im­pair­ments or oth­ers who may have prob­lems ac­cess­ing tourism prod­ucts and ser­vices with tem­po­rary dis­abil­i­ties.

The main ob­jec­tive is to un­der­stand­ing chal­lenges faced by peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in ac­cess­ing phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment, trans­porta­tion, in­for­ma­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and other ser­vices (pub­lic re­sources and in­fras­truc­ture) in Bhutan.

The main out­come of the work­shop was to cre­ate aware­ness on the chal­lenges faced by peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and to take ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures in or­der to en­sure that peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties have equal ac­cess to phys­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment, trans­porta­tion, in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions and other ser­vices.

Some of the re­sources per­son from Abil­ity Bhutan so­ci­ety, Wheel­chair Users As­so­ci­a­tion, Dis­able Per­son As­so­ci­a­tion of Bhutan and Tourism Coun­cil of Bhutan shared their ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing the work­shop.

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