Why universal accessibility is important in the tourism space
International Day for Persons with Disabilities is observed annually on December 3 and aims to promote the rights and well-being of people with disabilities.
December 3 also marks the end of National Disability Rights Awareness Month in South Africa.
South African Tourism believes that International Day for Persons with Disabilities and Disability Awareness Month present an opportunity for the tourism sector to ensure universal accessibility and strive to make tourism accessible for all.
It is estimated that one billion people worldwide live with disabilities, and face many barriers to inclusion in many key aspects of society.
The United Nations Social and Economic Council (UNESCAP) estimates that the potential global market for Universal Accessible Tourism (UAT) is 650 million people with differing disabilities and 600 million elderly people.
While this signifies a huge potential market for travel and tourism, it remains vastly under-served due to inaccessible travel and tourism facilities and services, as well as discriminatory policies and practices
South African Tourism said that universal access affords all people an equal opportunity and access to services and products for their benefit, regardless of their social class, ethnicity, ancestry or physical disabilities.
The theme for this year’s International Day for Person’s with Disability is “Not All Disabilities Are Visible” and aims to focus on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent.
Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Convention Bureau Officer at South African Tourism, said the tourism sector has a responsibility to continuously advocate for universal accessibility across all tourism products to ensure inclusivity and advance tourism access for all travellers.
“Universal access is of utmost importance, particularly in the Covid-19 environment. I would like to appeal to the role players in our industry to make universal access a priority by ensuring that all tourist attractions and establishments are not only quality assured through grading but also universally accessible. This includes catering for those disabilities that are not immediately visible. It is our responsibility to ensure the same access opportunities to attractions and experiences for everyone,” she said.
Kotze-Nhlapo said through the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, South African Tourism works in partnership with tourism stakeholders to create awareness and encourage tourism businesses to be universally accessible to all travellers while maintaining service excellence through best-practice standards.