The Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has made a plea for persons living with disabilities to be able to gain equal access and flourish within the tourism industry in the region.
In a message marking World Tourism Day 2016 on Tuesday, CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley said as a region, it is important to be aware that accessibility in tourism is a shared responsibility, which warrants consistent and conscientious effort by all parties involved in the tourism value chain to tourism.
“This requires that countries and destinations – and the industry as a whole – promote accessibility for all in the physical environment, in transport systems, in tourist and business facilities and in the availability of services and opportunities”
He said that the CTO was identifying with this year’s theme of ‘Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility’ since it reminds all stakeholders of “the need to ensure that all persons, including those living with disabilities, have equal access to tourism experiences, tourism business opportunities and employment in the industry”.
He said furthermore, the CTO was encouraging its members to invest in the necessary training, improvements to infrastructure and facilities and adoption of the new information communication technologies which are available and can contribute to enhancing both business and destination competitiveness.
“We believe that making tourism more accessible is a moral and social responsibility which speaks to the need to treat everyone with due courtesy, care and consideration.
“We are also confident that the benefits to be gained by countries and businesses that embrace the accessibility for all philosophy, far outweigh the required investments and will result in added value and a competitive advantage in the global tourism market. And it is simply the right thing to do. “
Riley said that making tourism more accessible means creating the opportunity for any individual, regardless of his or her physical limitation, circumstance or age, to function independently and with dignity and respect, by making available appropriately designed tourism facilities, attractions and environments.
“It also requires a zero tolerance policy on discrimination, prejudice or abuse both in relation to the delivery of services to guests and in the management and treatment of staff,” he said, adding “in our commitment to position ourselves to be the world’s most desirable year round, warm weather destination, our attention must be focused on the needs of every citizen and every traveler, as we work to make the Caribbean truly accessible for all.”