By Sudhir Sobti,
Of late, we’ve been hearing terms like accessible tourism or accessibility or persons with disability too much. What are these terms? How do they affect our lives? What role can we play in making it easier and convenient for people to visit other countries, states and cities? Through this blog post, I shall clear the air on the term ‘Accessible tourism’.
No doubt, accessible tourism has become a buzzword these days. In a nutshell, it requires facilitating people who are rendered unfit to some extent because of their medical condition and need special care. This 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 environments.
People with access requirements include:
- Those with young children in prams
- Seniors with mobility requirements
- People with permanent or temporary disabilities
However, a question that comes to mind is whether Accessible tourism is worth paying attention to? What is the volume of Accessible tourism as a business model? Should it be demand driven or policy driven? The scenario of Accessible tourism shall be of great help:
Worldwide there are over one billion people with a disability including over 11 million people with a disability in the United Kingdom and 54 million people with a disability in the USA.
As per a detailed report of IITTM Gwalior (http://iittm.net/), at least 2.5% of visiting tourists need Accessible accommodation in Delhi. This figure does not include tourists with ‘slow mobility’ ie. Aged people etc. A Foreign tourist stays for 22 days in India on an average, out of which 2 days are spent in Delhi. Thus, it becomes imperative that accessibility facilities are properly addressed by the Hospitality sector.
Facilities required for Accessible Tourism:
- Telecommunication devices for deaf and dumb
- Wide doorways
- Installed grab-bars in toilet area
- Raised toilet seats
During my stint in Delhi Tourism, I have witnessed the progress of Homestay / Bed and Breakfast accommodations in Delhi right from its inception. I have received highly positive feedback that the Bed and Breakfast owners take special care of the guests and even if the above mentioned facilities are not present at their premises, owners do not let their levels of service dip and serve all the guests with a smile, in tune with ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’. This ends up giving the foreign/domestic tourists an ‘ahaaa’ experience!
Dear countrymen, India is looking to increase its share of foreign tourist arrival from 0.7% to 1%. This is not an easy task to achieve without your support. As a patriot and a hospitable Indian, I would request all the hospitality providers to take extra care of the guests that require special care. This would enable you to earn tourists’ smiles and blessings. In turn, India shall earn satisfied tourists and a positive word of mouth. Thus, providing extra care for accessible tourists is a win-win situation for all stakeholders.
About the Author:
Mr Sudhir Sobti is the Chief Manager- Public Relations and Publicity at Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation. He is a diehard patriot and loves doing what he does. During the XIXth Commonwealth Games held in Delhi, he worked as Director Communications (Media Relations) with Organising Committee Commonwealth Games, Delhi 2010 from April 2009 – November 2010 (on deputation). Due to his penchant for Communications and Public Relations, he was awarded as Best Public Relations Manager in the Public Sector for the year 2015 by Union Minister for Tourism & Culture, as part of South Asia Travel Awards, announced by Pacific Area Travel Writers Association (PATWA). He also received the Award for Excellence in Tourism Communication by Public Relations Council of India during the 9th Global Communication Conclave 2015. With a view to promote Film tourism in Delhi, He has been working intensely as a nodal officer on behalf of Government of Delhi to introduce single single window clearance mechanism for facilitating Film shooting in Delhi due to which Delhi is now seen as a Tourism friendly destination by Bollywood.