Thu | Jul 19, 2018

Bahamas to target disabled tourists

Published:Tuesday | August 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The Bahamas government said on Monday it is seeking to tap into the disabled travel sector that has long been overlooked and will now place accessibility at the heart of tourism development in the country.

Director in the Office of the Ministry of Tourism Janet Johnson said the accessible tourism drive would be beneficial to visitors and residents alike as it seeks to remove all barriers that would hinder and deny disabled persons and even some of the ageing baby-boomer population easy access to everyday activities.

"It's a win-win for everyone. It's a feel-good initiative because we are doing the right thing while potentially benefiting from a relatively new and lucrative revenue stream," she said, noting that Barbados is leading the charge and benefiting handsomely with creative measures for disabled guests to experience the country and incentives for businesses that make accommodations for this segment.

Tourism minister Obie Wilchcombe, said this is an emerging market to which The Bahamas has to adapt.

"We want to ensure that when guests come to our shores, they can enjoy what we have to offer. It's an important aspect that we want our visitors to know that we take seriously. We in The Bahamas want your stay to be memorable. Part of that is to ensure that all members of family can access a particular space or take part in certain activities," he said.




In 2014, parliamentarians passed the Persons with Disabilities Act and have established a secretariat for the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities.

The new law seeks to eliminate discrimination against disabled people and allow access to public buildings, transport and education. It also mandated that businesses that employ 100 people or more must include disabled people in their workforce.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) will mark World Tourism Day on September 27. This year the theme is: Tourism for All - Promoting Universal Accessibility.

The UNWTO has encouraged countries around the world to join the global campaign and raise the national consciousness for accessible tourism by conducting a symposium in their country. As a part of this campaign, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism said it will host a one-day symposium on September 27 and that international guest speakers and local experts have been invited to participate.

A government statement noted that infrastructure audits of the country's facilities such as hotels, public spaces and ports of entry are under way to see how The Bahamas measures up on accessibility.