"Tourism for all: promoting universal accessibility". This is the theme with which the World Tourism Day 2016, held on September 27, is presented. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), commemorates this day since 1980 with the aim of spreading the importance of tourism, specially this year in order to raise awareness of the barriers that persons with disabilities have to face when travelling.
Exploring new cultures helps to change our perception of the world, this interest in understanding other communities and seeing new landscapes has helped multiply the number of tourists in the last 50 years, which has not always contributed to sustainable development, such as with mass tourism. This year, the WTO aims to promote sustainable tourism, the kind that allows social, environmental and economic development, focusing on the improvement of accessibility of cities to eliminate physical barriers for people with disabilities.
Sustainable and accessible tourism
About one billion people, 15% of the world population, are disabled, so accessibility and infrastructure adaptation benefit everyone, according to the World Tourism Organization: “May that be due to a disability, even temporary, families with small children, or the ageing population, at some point in our lives, sooner or later, we all benefit of universal accessibility in tourism.”
This is why the WTO wants “to call upon the right for all of the world’s citizens to experience the incredible diversity of our planet and the beauty of the world we live in”. And how is this call claimed? Through multiple celebrations and information campaigns to be held this September 27th.
Thailand, 2016 official host
Thailand, one of the countries that has experienced a fast growing tourism in recent years, has been designated by the WTO as the official host for World Tourism Day 2016. Its biggest challenge is to eliminate barriers when traveling, for example through clear and reliable information, efficient transport and public services and a barrier-free physical environment.
The OMT invites all citizens to celebrate this day, in any of the official events, or through social networks with the hashtags #WTD2016 and #tourism4all.
Do you know any touristic destination that is a good example of accessibility? Tell us about it and participate with your comments.