Tourism Symposium On Accessibility Slated For Sept. 27

The Ministry of Tourism is gearing up to host a one-day symposium next week as part of the United Nations World Tourism Day to raise awareness about accessible tourism in The Bahamas.

The symposium, slated for Tuesday, September 27, will take place at the Melia Nassau Beach Resort.

Panelists include Prime Minister Perry Christie, architect Michael Diggiss, Rosanne Tudor of Fully Accessible Barbados and members from the Bahamas National Commission for Persons with Disabilities including Iris Adderley and Peter Goudie, among others.

By hosting the symposium, the Ministry of Tourism is hoping to tap into a billion-dollar travel sector long overlooked.

Director in the Office of the Minister Janet Johnson said the idea is to place accessibility at the heart of tourism development in The Bahamas.

“Our symposium takes aim at an emerging market,” she said. “We want our visitors to not only feel welcomed and safe, but to ensure that they have access to all that we have to offer in The Bahamas.

“Next Tuesday, we hope to have a lively session where creative and bold ideas about accessibility can be shared and nurtured.” 

Johnson said the hope is that businesses begin to retrofit their properties to cater and remove barriers to those with disabilities and the aging baby-boomer population.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization’s “World Tourism Day 2016 Celebration” slated for September 27 will be held under the theme Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility.

In his official message, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said, “Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis.

“Yet one billion people around the world living with disability, along with young children, seniors and persons with other access requirements, still face obstacles in accessing fundamentals of travel such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate.  Even with modern technologies, those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments are being left behind in many tourism destinations.”

While the UNWTO annual conference takes place in Bangkok, Thailand, the organization 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.

Such retrofits would include installing individual handicapped male and female bathrooms, grab railings, increasing the width of doors, special retrofitted wings in hotels, chair ramps and signage so as to accommodate all visitors.

Media Contact: Travis Cartwright-Carroll | tcartwright@bahamas.com | 242-397-2790