December 03 also marks the end of National Disability Rights Awareness Month in South Africa.
The International Day for Persons with Disabilities and Disability Awareness Month both present an opportunity for the tourism sector to once again align to ensure universal accessibility and strive to make tourism accessible for all. Universal access affords all people equal opportunity and access to services and products for their benefit, regardless of their social class, ethnicity, ancestry or physical disabilities.
It is estimated that one billion people worldwide live with disabilities, and face many barriers to inclusion in many key aspects of society. The United Nations Social and Economic Council (UNESCAP) estimates that the potential global market for Universal Accessible Tourism (UAT) is 650 million people with differing disabilities and 600 million elderly people. While this signifies a huge potential market for travel and tourism, it still remains vastly under-served due to inaccessible travel and tourism facilities and services, as well as discriminatory policies and practices.
“Like all sectors, the tourism sector has a responsibility to continuously advocate for universal accessibility across all tourism products, in order to ensure that we achieve the necessary levels of inclusivity,” said Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, chief convention bureau officer, South African Tourism.
The theme for the 2020 International Day for Person’s with Disability is ‘Not all Disabilities Are Visible’ aimed to focus on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent.