Tourism is a rapidly growing industry in the Asia region and people with disabilities and older persons are becoming a growing group of consumers of travel, sports, and other leisure-oriented products and services. There are more than 700 million people with some kind of disability worldwide. Although handicapped they love travelling as much as anyone of us.
Accessible tourism is not only about wide doors and greater signs – it is also about people. Thus large numbers of people require tourism to be made barrier-free. Indeed, good access will benefit not only people with disabilities, but also many other members of the community, especially senior citizens. Although the number of tourists who would benefit from accessible facilities and services are on the increase, most tourism providers have still not yet recognized the importance of taking action on this issue. People with disability have a right to, and do want to enjoy travel leisure experiences. However, their travel experiences are still characterized by transportation constraints, inaccessible accommodation and tourism sites, and inadequate customer services. If professionals of tourism industry are to succeed in accessing these potential new markets, they must understand the needs involved and learn how to respond to these challenges for the benefit of both the tourism industry and people with disabilities.
Providing comprehensive accessibility is the major challenge for tourism service providers to address people with disabilities (and older people) as growing consumer groups. Information about accessibility of tourism objects (accommodation, sights, streets, parks, etc.) is equally important as barrier-free tourism information systems to support the booking and decision making process.
Barrier-free access is an important feature at all major tourism area such as shopping malls, restaurants and hotels. As well as modern infrastructure, specific schemes are rolled out by tourism operators to welcome disabled and senior guests.
It is essential that the tourism industry improve its service to people with disabilities notwithstanding the number of initiatives to make tourism barrier-free for people with disabilities. Both government and the private sector to come up with a solid plan for tackle the key issues that require immediate attention to provide a barrier-free environment.
The strong support for barrier-free tourism will give PWDs a chance to move freely in public places as they will be provided with basic infrastructure as accessible public transport and standard rail ways, among others such as providing wheelchair access, inductive loop systems and tactile guide paths.The implementation of the Accessibility Law added that aside from providing ramps, building owners should also follow specific rules for toilet rooms like the installation of standard grab bars. Moreover, stressed that the law itself should be amended as it lacks important features like standard configuration of toilet rooms, pedestrian bridges, and other important basic infrastructure crucial for older people and PWDs.Furthermore Staffs are trained to provide assistance to visitors with specific needs so that everyone can enjoy the facilities and attractions. If everything is place in order the Barrier-free tourism is also expected to attract more foreign retirees to visit the host country.
Here is a video clip of the Students of Taylor’s college, School of Hospitality and Tourism in Malaysia whom take the initiative to do a barrier free travel for the people with disability as a graduate project.
However, when you provide the facilities which are friendly to them and easy and accessible I believe that barrier-free travel can offers a new opportunity for the tourism industry in Asia Region.