BANGKOK — Approximately 500 delegates from 60 countries met in Bangkok, Thailand last week in a week-long effort to tackle challenges in tourism and to celebrate World Tourism Day 2016. This year’s theme was Tourism for All: Promoting Universal Accessibility.
“As one billion people across the globe have some kind of disability, accessibility becomes, and will continue to be, a major concern for us all” says Thailand’s Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-Cha, who presided over the official celebrations. “We need to create more accessibility for all, including the aging groups. We need to provide better services for all.”
The Tourism and the Media workshop — one of the week’s first events — was held in partnership with the Chulalongkorn University and focused on the role of the media in supporting accessible tourism. “Journalists, editors, photographers, documentary producers…can do a lot in sensitizing the general public about accessibility and by pushing their respective governments towards the necessary regulatory frameworks towards universal design in the tourism sector,” says Xu Jing, regional director of Asia and the Pacific at the World Tourism Organization.
“Sooner or later, all of us will suffer circumstances that impede us moving freely and independently, so adapting universal accessibility principles will benefit us all,” says Ivor Ambrose, director of the European Network of Accessible Tourism (ENAT). According to Ambrose, by 2050, as much as 22 per cent of the world population will be over the age of 60 with specific accessibility needs.