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President of the Senate, Senator Kerryann Ifill. (FP)??

Accessible tourism is tourism for all – and it benefits everyone.

This was the sentiment shared with employees in the tourism industry who attended the Ministry of Tourism’s Fully Accessible Barbados (FAB): Sensitivity and Sign Language Training Workshop series, which was launched this morning at Divi Southwinds Beach Resort.

Hosted in collaboration with the Barbados Council for the Disabled, the workshop will serve to raise awareness about fully accessible tourism.?? Chief Tourism Development Officer, Jacqueline Pollard, observed that "the tourism sector must understand and be sensitive to the needs of the physically and otherwise challenged persons amongst us".

She stressed that the needs of the disabled community – which numbers 18 000 in Barbados and 650 million persons worldwide – had to be met, adding that it was crucial that this segment of the tourist market not be ignored.

"These numbers increase significantly when expanded to include seniors with accessibility needs, their friends, family and caretakers;… and people with temporary accessibility needs, such as injury, pregnancy and families using strollers," she observed.

Ms. Pollard also noted that "tourism players in the public and private sectors are very much aware of the need for high standards in the creation and delivery of all tourism related products and services in Barbados.?? It should be no different when it comes to meeting the needs of all visitors".

One area where progress needed to be made, she said, was communication and interaction with persons with disabilities.?? However, the Chief Tourism Development Officer maintained that organisations in Barbados "have recognised the importance of this growing market to our economy, and have started improving on accessibility in buildings.?? I wish to publicly acknowledge the contribution of all tourism partners who have refurbished or adjusted their building designs to take the disabled visitor into account".

Divi Southwinds was offered as an example of a property which was making an effort to meet the needs of the disabled segment of the tourist market.?? General Manager, Alvin Jemmott, explained that "if we are going to continue to push Barbados’ tourism to the next level…we’re going to have to make every effort to cater to the needs of every guest".??

He observed that, while the hotel has not been recognised as fully accessible, "every time we do something new in the hotel, we take [persons with disabilities] into consideration".

President of the Senate, Senator Kerryann Ifill, lauded Divi Southwinds for striving to accommodate persons with disabilities and observed that making the effort was the first step.?? She emphasised that "without you, we cannot achieve a fully accessible Barbados".

nekaelia.hutchinson@barbados.gov.bb

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