Disability World
A bimonthly web-zine of international disability news and views, Issue no. 7 March-April 2001

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Regional Training Workshop on Promotion of Accessible Tourism (24-28 September 2000)

Asia-Pacific Conference on Tourism for People with Disabilities (24-27 September 2000)
Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

Report: Recommendations and Bali Declaration
A. Issues

People with disabilities and older persons are growing groups and consumers of tourism services. Families with young children are beginning to travel more. These three groups have similar needs for accessible tourism. However, the majority of tourism service providers in the ESCAP region do not, as yet, understand the economic and social significance of early action to create barrier-free tourism.

The built environment (buildings, streets, parks, public transportation and communication infrastructure) has a major impact on the quality of tourism experience, especially concerning its safety, convenience, efficiency and enjoyment aspects. There is insufficient integration of the planning and development of the built environment and tourism development, both within and across countries.

To create tourism that caters to the full range of consumer needs, there is a need to improve the useability of transportation, accommodation, tourism sites and services, and tour programmes.

B. Promotion of tourism for all
1. Guiding principles

Persons with disabilities have equal right of access to all tourism infrastructure, products and services, including employment opportunities and benefits that the tourism industry can provide. The tourism industry should provide the same choices for all consumers to ensure the full participation of persons with disabilities, and protection of the individual's right to travel with dignity.

Tourism master plans, policies and programmes should incorporate the principle of universal access to tourism infrastructure, products and services. Furthermore, access improvement in tourism benefits many other groups, including older persons and families with young children. The inclusion of universal design in tourism development can create environments, products and services that are useable by a wide spectrum of consumers, irrespective of their experience, knowledge, skills, age, gender, as well as their physical, sensory, communication and cognitive abilities. Thus the spirit of barrier-free tourism means the reduction of all physical and non-physical barriers and dangers so that they do not adversely affect tourism experiences and activities.

With regard to tourism access improvement, it is important for all concerned to take into consideration the rights and needs of diverse user groups, including single disability groups, persons with multiple disabilities, and women and girls with disabilities.

2. Strategic actions

(a) People with disabilities and disabled persons' organizations should:
  1. Develop empowerment programmes focusing on skills for advocacy and negotiation with the tourism industry;
  2. Acquire skills in appraising tourism facilities, programmes and services, and in recommending action to raise their quality, as appropriate;
  3. Learn to conduct access surveys;
  4. Document and share information on the quality of tourism components and user experiences (accommodation, transportation, tourism sites and services, tour programmes, and information and communications systems);
  5. Create local access guides and maps for in-country and foreign visitors;
  6. Serve as resource persons or advisors to training institutions and policy-making bodies concerned with tourism services;
  7. Communicate rights and needs in an effective manner to people encountered in the course of travel, especially those who are unaware and inexperienced concerning disabled persons or discriminatory in their behaviour;
  8. Strengthen craft production and marketing skills among persons with disabilities as an economically viable interface with the tourism industry;
  9. Support disabled persons in acquiring training and employment in the tourism industry.
(b) Government authorities should:
  1. Train immigration officers and ministry of foreign affairs staff concerned with visa applications on disabled person-friendly procedures to be observed in a systematic manner;
  2. Work towards uniform disabled person-friendly immigration procedures at the subregional level;
  3. Improve the accessibility of immigration offices to facilitate travel document application by all tourists, including tourists with disabilities;
  4. Exempt from customs duty all assistive devices required by disabled persons for supporting their activities of daily living, including computers required by blind persons;
  5. Update annually a list of items that should be exempted from customs duty;
  6. Simplify customs clearance procedures for all assistive devices required by disabled persons for supporting their activities of daily living, including computers required by blind persons;
  7. Train customs officers on ways of communicating with disabled persons, especially with deaf and hard of hearing persons.
(c) Tourism service providers should:
  1. Develop in-house programmes to raise awareness, sensitivity and skill levels to provide more appropriate services for persons with disabilities;
  2. Communicate more with disabled persons and their organizations to exchange accurate and reliable information for strengthening tourism services to better meet diverse consumer needs;
  3. Encourage tourism service providers to make their websites accessible for disabled persons, especially blind persons;
  4. Involve disabled persons with the requisite experience and skills in conducting access surveys of premises and to serve as resource persons and advisors in improving tourism services;
  5. Introduce barrier-free tourism into the agendas of their regular meetings;
  6. Introduce accessibility as a criterion in the ranking of hotels and restaurants.
(d) Tourism training institutions should:
  1. Include in training curricula (for all levels) the following contents concerning a client focus that respects the rights and needs of diverse consumer groups, including persons with disabilities: attitude, knowledge and skills development, as well as cross-cultural understanding and appreciation;
  2. Develop and use training modules for sensitizing front-line service staff to relate, in an appropriate manner, with disabled travellers.
(e) Inter-governmental organizations should:
  1. Foster inter-country exchange and networking concerning experiences and practices on endeavours towards barrier-free tourism;
  2. Identify, inter-regionally and within the ESCAP region, best practices in the promotion of barrier-free tourism for wider reference and possible adaptation in the ESCAP region;
  3. Facilitate, in cooperation with subregional organizations, inter-country discussion towards the adoption of uniform disabled person-friendly immigration procedures;
  4. Work towards the lifting of discriminatory and restrictive conditions, such as the requirements of an accompanying person and medical certification, that are imposed on travellers with disabilities;
  5. Explore possible means of granting accreditation to tourism industry establishments that are accessible by disabled persons;
  6. Develop an outline of core contents for training tourism personnel;
  7. Develop training content and capability to strengthen passenger services at transport interchanges (bus, railway, ferry, ship and airplane terminals);
  8. Promote the application of universal design principles to improve the accessibility of tourism sites, especially cultural, heritage and pilgrimage sites.

Organization of the Workshop-cum-Conference

A. Background
ESCAP organized the Regional Training Workshop on Promotion of Accessible Tourism (24-28 September 2000) in conjunction with the Asia-Pacific Conference on Tourism for People with Disabilities (24-27 September 2000). The Workshop-cum-Conference were held at Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the National Social Welfare Board, Government of Indonesia. The Conference, organized by the Community Based Rehabilitation Development and Training Centre, Solo, Indonesia, was co-sponsored by ESCAP, the Nippon Foundation and the Indonesian Society for the Care of Disabled Children. The hosting of both events constituted a contribution of the Government of Indonesia to regional cooperation in support of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons.

B. Objectives
The Conference was organized to provide a forum for the discussion of major issues related to accessible tourism for people with disabilities, with a view to identifying key policy and strategy elements for promoting barrier-free tourism. The proposal for such a Conference had been discussed at the Eighteenth Session of the Regional Interagency Committee for Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee on Disability-related Concerns held in November 1999.

The Workshop was organized to provide participants from ESCAP developing countries with training on a multisectoral approach to the promotion of barrier-free tourism.

C. Attendance
Two hundred participants (200) attended the Workshop-cum-Conference seminar. They were from Australia, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. They included persons with disabilities, tourism officials, tourism industry representatives and human resources development experts from hospitality management institutions. There were three resource persons from Peru, Singapore and South Africa. Their expertise covered the following areas: promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities, and citizens' participation on accessibility issues, training persons with disabilities as trainers on the conduct of access surveys, access-related awareness raising among professionals responsible for the design and maintenance of the built environment, barrier-free design and its strategic application.

D. Opening
The First Lady of Indonesia inaugurated the Conference. His Excellency Mr Abdurrahman Wahid, President of Indonesia, delivered the keynote statement at the opening session. His Excellency Mr I Gede Ardika, Minister of Culture and Tourism addressed the participants. There was a rich programme of performances by local persons with diverse disabilities.

E. Programme
The substantive programme of the Workshop-cum-Conference was composed of eight plenary sessions of technical presentations and two group discussion sessions. The technical presentations covered the following: regional overview of universal design principles, rights and needs of persons with disabilities, priorities for strategic action, quality of life and tourism, tourism for people with disabilities, human resources development in tourism, travel health, and the access survey as an empowerment tool.

A field visit programme was organized for the participants to observe Balinese cultural activities and interact with Balinese disabled persons who were engaged in those activities, as well as in craft production.

The resource persons conducted a special training session for the Workshop participants on: strategic interventions for the promotion of accessible tourism; collaboration with tourism authorities on access improvement; and working on access improvement among disabled persons living in urban poverty, and the rights of persons with disabilities.

F. Adoption of the report and closing
The participants adopted their report, including the recommendations and the Bali Declaration on Barrier-free Tourism for People with Disabilities, on 27 September 2000. The Bali Declaration is annexed to this report.

In adopting the report, nine participants formed a networking group on tourism for people with disabilities. The group agreed to disseminate the recommendations and the Bali Declaration through their respective networks. Group members also agreed to maintain e-mail contact with one another, and to provide mutual support and encouragement on follow-up action.

HE the Minister of Culture of Tourism, Government of Indonesia, received the finalized Bali Declaration from the participants and pledged his commitment to follow-up action in support of the implementation of its operative provisions.

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