A call is going out for the private and public sectors to work together to achieve a sustainable and accessible tourism product especially for the disabled community.

Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, Celia Pollard-Jones, made this observation today, while addressing the opening ceremony of the Fully Accessible Barbados Sensitivity and Sign Language training workshop. It was held at Radisson Aquatica Resort in St. Michael.

She explained that accessible tourism in essence, is concerned with improving the quality of service a destination offers in ???anticipation of achieving our ultimate goal, which is greater customer satisfaction, a more accessible tourism product and Barbados as a people-oriented society which takes all aspects of its tourism product seriously???.

???As we move forward with our objective of becoming a fully accessible destination, I cannot over-emphasise the importance of greater collaboration between tourism partners to make this initiative a true success,??? Mrs. Pollard-Jones stressed.

Pointing out that accessible tourism catered to the needs of tourists with temporary or permanent disabilities, the Acting Permanent Secretary said people with special access requirements across the world, were often frustrated over the lack of facilities and information on accessibility that would make planning their trip abroad much easier.

Even as this group may feel let down by a lack of understanding about their plight across the public and private sectors, Mrs. Pollard-Jones said: ???As we look around our own society, we see that more investment is required to improve accessibility as well as greater emphasis on introducing accessibility legislation.???

???As we look around our own society, we see that more investment is required to improve accessibility as well as greater emphasis on introducing accessibility legislation.???

On the issue of legislation, the Acting Permanent Secretary told her audience that Barbados had ratified United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on February 27, and she congratulated the Barbados Council for the Disabled for its efforts in this regard.

???Of course, this is just a start and much work now remains to be done in the area of legislation and access to employment for the disabled. Barbados, must therefore, continue to place a strong focus on understanding the complexity that is inherent in disability and access. Understanding the issues can make a difference and ultimately make our destinations accessible to targetted markets,??? Mrs. Pollard-Jones underlined.

She said the creation of ramps and adjustments to the width and types of bathrooms offered to guests on hotel properties, made a big difference in providing access and by extension, a more inclusive product.

???In doing so, you can reach new markets and also improve your operational bottom line???Accessible tourism needs to be part of a strategic planning process whereby our tourism partners can come together to develop accessible products and services on the principle that tourism should be accessible to all.

Consultation with our disabled counterparts should be an integral part of this process, to ensure that we get our strategy right the first time,??? Mrs. Pollard-Jones surmised.

She described the workshop as an integral component of the education process about the Fully Accessible Barbados Programme.

The workshop continues tomorrow, Friday, October 4, at the Radisson Aquatica Resort, starting at 9:00 a.m.


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