World Tourism Day 2016 emphasizes accessible tourism for all

Monday, October 3rd, 2016. Filed under: Destinations World News
 World Tourism Day under the theme 'Tourism for All, Promoting Universal Accessibility'. Experts and policy makers gathered in Bangkok to share ideas, experiences and more importantly to agree on advancing this important agenda. Tourism for all is a human right and a great business opportunity. (photo courtesy of World Tourism Organization   UNWTO Facebook page)

World Tourism Day under the theme ‘Tourism for All, Promoting Universal Accessibility’. Experts and policy makers gathered in Bangkok to share ideas, experiences and more importantly to agree on advancing this important agenda. Tourism for all is a human right and a great business opportunity. (photo courtesy of World Tourism Organization UNWTO Facebook page)

BANGKOK  (PNA/Xinhua) – Participants of the World Tourism Day 2016, which was held in Thai capital Bangkok Tuesday, called for more accessible tourism for everyone, especially those with disabilities and senior citizens.

The host country Thailand also promised to improve its tourism accessibility soon.

The event this year, under the theme “Tourism for all- Promoting Universal Accessibility,” invited representatives from international organizations, governments of several countries and the tourism industry to talk about methods to realize the goal.

Around 1 billion people, or 15 percent of global population have disabilities and thus have difficulties in accessing tourism, according to Xu Jing, executive secretary and regional director for Asia and the Pacific under World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

“Our theme this year is very important…we want the international community and the tourism industry to take actions, such as improving infrastructure, introducing new legislations, to make tourism accessible for all,” Xu told Xinhua.

Everyone is aging, at some point in our lives, sooner or later, we all benefit in universal accessibility in tourism, so it is time to take actions now, Monthien Boontan, United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and member of Thailand’s National Legislative Assembly said in a seminar during the event.

Monthien told Xinhua that businessmen in the tourism industry must change their minds as they will find that they can make profits from persons with disabilities, senior citizens, families with small children as well as other customers once the industry is ready.

In a press conference during the event, David Scowsill, president and CEO of World Travel and Tourism Council, emphasized that anyone of any nation, or any sexual orientation should have the freedom to travel around the world freely, thus accessibility needs to be focused.

Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thai minister of Tourism and Sports said in the press conference that Thailand is already planning to launch tourism route that is consistent with the theme “Tourism for All,” which will start from the northeastern Khon Kaen province and will be followed by other regions in the future.

Krisana Lalai, a representative of persons with disabilities and promoter of friendly design for all, said that it is very important that Thailand host this event as it will move Thailand or even the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) forward to be more accessible for people of different groups.

Attending the celebration of the day, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Thailand is aiming for universally-designed tourism while conserving its historical heritage sites. He said the government will transform Thailand into the “Hub of Universal Design” in ASEAN.

UNWTO celebrates the World Tourism Day annually on Sept. 27 since 1980, so as to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value, according to UNWTO’s official website.

The organization later decided to designate a host country each year to act as its partner in the celebration of World Tourism Day. It is the first time for Thailand to host the event.

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