Although a "panel of
internationally-renowned experts will address the participants of the
Fifth Middle East Forum for Accessible Tourism (MEFAT) in Dubai on May
13" about legislation around the world for people with disabilities the following press release does not identify any of the speakers as having firsthand experience with disabilities. Absent is mention of Disabled People's Organizations with expertise on Inclusive Tourism such as GAATES, Disabled Peoples' International, Open Doors, ENAT, AccessAbility, or IDDI.
One could ask the question if the phrase, "Nothing about us without us" has been somewhere lost in translation or whether legitimacy in the eyes of the constituency under discussion figured into the planners calculation and marketing position:
Organised by Nad Al Sheba for PR and Events Management in association with Dubai Airports, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM)Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM),
Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Administration, the one-day forum
has become an ideal annual platform for debating the issues of
development and challenges relating to the Special Needs Tourism,
especially in the Middle East region.
H.H Sheikh Ahmed
bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and
Chief Executive of Emirates Airlines Group, and Forum Patron, said:
"The support this forum has been getting since the past five years
clearly reflects the eagerness in the Middle East to promote the
destinations to People with Special Needs, for whom infrastructure and
services have been developed at the airports, hotels, shopping malls
and recreational facilities. Building on the progress we have made over
the past four years, this year's Forum will further promote the cause
of accessible tourism as a humanitarian initiative as well as Special
Needs Tourism as a neglected but high-potential economic segment."
His Excellency Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA)Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), will be announcing the new services offered by the RTA to make Dubai more accessible friendly.
His Excellency Abdullah Rashid Al Suwaidi, Director General at the UAE
Ministry of Social Affairs, will outline the social responsibility
towards people with special needs for companies and individuals in the
UAE. He will highlight the long-felt need to create an integrated
platform for all NGOs in the country and foster volunteerism.
Mr. Dayton Lehman Jr., Principal Deputy Assistant General Counsel for
Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings at the US Department of
Transportation, will be speaking about the challenges facing all the
airlines flying in and out of the US airports as a result of a new
legislation effective May 13.
The newly-revised US
Department of Transportation's Air Carrier's Access Act (ACAA)
regulations prohibit discrimination in air travel on the basis of an
individual's disability. As part of the new legislation, the carriers
must appoint at least one Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) who
addresses passenger complaints related to disabilities.
Adopted in May 2008, the revised ACAA rule applies to all US carrier
operations and some non-U.S. carrier operations. Airlines are also
required to ensure compliance from their vendors and contractors. The
rule requires airlines to make accommodations for the use of portable
oxygen concentrators and other respiratory assistive devices, as well
as accommodations for deaf or hard-of-hearing passengers.
Dayton Lehman supervises a staff of nearly 40 attorneys, transportation
industry analysts and support staff. The Enforcement Office monitors
compliance with and investigates violations of DOT's aviation economic
requirements, including that concerning consumer protection, civil
rights and unauthorized operations involving US and foreign carriers,
and provides the legal review for the licensing of new airlines.
Ann Frye, Advisor to the UK's Ministry of Transportation. She will be
addressing the forum about the rights of passengers with special needs
in the European legislation and transportation sector's best practices
implemented in the UK. She will share information about the rights of
passengers with special needs and best practices as implemented in the
UK. Since 2006, the European Commission has taken a number of
initiatives in order to ensure a smooth phasing in of regulations
concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced
mobility when travelling by air. Her work included introducing and
implementing the transport provisions of the Disability Discrimination
Acts 1995 and 2005, developing and implementing a Race Equality Scheme
for the Department and its Agencies.
Mr. Tony Chandler,
Vice President of Airport Services at the Emirates Airlines, will be
sharing knowledge about the services the Dubai-based carrier provides
to customers with special needs.
The Middle East region
is home to 35 million People with Special Needs. Experts believe, if 10
per cent more of this huge chunk of population travel and spend
approximately US$1,000 per annum, this would result in US$3 billion
business every year to the tourism industry.
the number of people with special needs is around 750 million. Tourists
with special needs constitute around 10 per cent of the total number of
tourists in the world; they approximately spent over US$28 billion
alone in the United States and Europe annually.
According to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), the number of
tourists worldwide will triple in size by 2020, with the Middle East
region poised for spectacular growth. According to World Travel and
Tourism Council's (WTTC), the Middle East accounts for 2.4 per cent of
travel and tourism market share globally. WTTC statistics show that the
tourism sector in the Middle East will contribute US$189.5 billion
revenues by the end of 2016, which is equivalent to 10.1% of the