Accessibility for Tourists with Disabilities a Must for Tourism

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Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy (left) discussing the need for tourism to cater to the disabled with Inclusive Tourism Consultant, Dr. Scott Rains. (N.Hutchinson/BGIS)

The need for a special niche of tourists – those with disabilities – to be catered to was discussed this morning, when Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, met with Inclusive Tourism consultant, Dr. Scott Rains.

Dr. Rains, who will be speaking tomorrow morning at the Ministry’s Inclusive Tourism Symposium, explained that ???every destination needs to define itself uniquely’ and meeting the needs of persons with disabilities was one way this could be achieved.

Minister Sealy agreed with this sentiment and noted that including this niche would serve a multiple purpose, as it would also improve accessibility for tourists from the older demographic, who represent a significant percentage of this island’s repeat visitors. He added that the effort being made towards more inclusive tourism "…says a lot about us as a society; that we are including all our citizens….offering our tourism product to everyone…and being trendsetters."

Dr. Rains asserted that including elements which catered to those with disabilities often times benefitted their able bodied counterparts as well and created a more engaging experience for all.?? He pointed out that there are disability simulations where persons are asked to experience a particular attraction, blindfolded for example, so that the other senses – sense of smell, feeling – are used to appreciate one’s surroundings.

Operations Manager of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, Roseanne Tudor, noted that quite a few local hotels had already established an environment which was conducive to a positive experience for travellers with disabilities.?? However, she added that there was still much that could be done to improve the overall tourism product, from accessibility on the plane to transportation on the ground.??

In addition to the symposium, Dr. Rains will also address a public lecture tomorrow, Tuesday, October 4, at the George Lamming Pedagogical Centre, Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, University of the West Indies, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

These activities are part of the Fully Accessible Barbados (FAB) programme, which has been adopted as a tourism initiative, to increase awareness about accessibility for all in the tourism industry.

nekaelia.hutchinson@barbados.gov.bb

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