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Making Tourism Accessible for All : Arindam Basu, General Manager, Marketing Delta Corp Ltd

Saturday, January 8, 2022, 11:58 Hrs  [IST]
HBI Staff | Hyderabad

By Arindam Basu, General Manager, Marketing Delta Corp Ltd

Mr. Eugene Fodor rightly said; “You don’t have to be rich to travel”

Indeed, a thought that needs to be fostered for an enriching human endeavour. Humans are meant to move. No matter the state, race, religion, or their physical limitations, human beings are wired to travel and explore the unexplored from time to time. 

Tourism is a buzzword in the industry ever evolving and changing in today’s tech savvy era. While we as humans have evolved exponentially when it comes to exploring the world, we however still need to redefine what accessibility means in tourism. United Nation defines Accessible Tourism as a form of tourism that enables all people to participate in and enjoy tourism experiences. It is the ongoing endeavour to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age. This includes publicly and privately owned tourist locations, facilities and services. Accessible tourism is about providing access to tourism for people from all walks of life and all kinds of backgrounds- provision for disabled people makes up just one fragment of this. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15% of the world’s population (1 billion people) lives with some form of disability. Accessibility for all to tourism facilities, products, and services should be a central part of any responsible and sustainable tourism policy of the government. This thought is imperative and needs to be addressed as it signifies a huge potential market for travel and tourism, which still remains vastly under-served due to inaccessible travel and tourism facilities and services, as well as discriminatory policies and practices.

Tourism landscape is at a cusp of transformation:
The pandemic has accelerated and changed the tourism landscape across the countries in the world. People today want to travel more and to wider range of places since being lockdown. According to studies, the tourism sector in India accounted for 39 million jobs, which was 8.0% of the total employment in the country. By 2029, it is expected to account for about 53 million jobs. Closely aligned with a thought of sustainable tourism, we need to focus on making tourism accessible for all. Accessible tourism will provide opportunities for all types of people across race, religion and cultures. 

With an industry this wide and with so much potential, there are enough business opportunities for the players in the sector. All we need to do is be cognizant of the same and design programmes that work for all. Companies today are changing their policies and promoting accessible tourism widely. As the countries are opening up, they are also being welcoming to people of all walks of life and making sure they have a good time. According to Indian guidelines, it is imperative for tourist-facilities being created with central financial assistance, to be barrier-free. The Ministry has also instituted a new category of Award of Excellence for Most Barrier-Free Monument/Tourist Attraction in the country to encourage other agencies responsible for maintaining monuments/tourist attractions to create barrier-free environment for the promotion of accessible tourism. 

Collaboration with Stakeholders:
Accessible tourism involves a collaborative process among all stakeholders, Governments, international agencies, tour-operators and end-users, including persons with disabilities and their organizations (DPOs). A successful tourism product requires effective partnerships and cooperation across many sectors at the national, regional and international levels. Accessing information, travel arrangements to the destination, local transportation, accommodation, shopping, and hospitality are some of the many things to be considered. 

New-Generation Travel: Need of Hour
With the easing restrictions on domestic travel and highly limited option for international trips, domestic has come under the spotlight like never before. The new generation travellers are environment conscious and seem to be interested in environment friendly tourism which in turn promoted sustainable travel options. They are more mindful and accepting to challenges while travelling which is a progressive thought and a right step towards accessible travelling. Sustainable travel choices are mostly closer to remote villages and they not only provide a boost to these communities, but are accessible and affordable and are a transformative choice contributing to unique and individual travel experiences. They also help in raising funds for conserving nature in these areas. 

In order for tourism to be more cohesive and sustainable, we need to develop and implement accessible tourism wherever possible. This will inevitably have positive outcomes for the overall business development. We need to focus on the three keys areas of the environment, economy and society when planning for accessible tourism. Accessible tourism is not a luxury anymore, it is a right. Everybody should have access to tourism.

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