May 11, 2005

Taipei Plan of Action for Accessible Tourism

The Taipei Plan of Action for Accessible Tourism has just been released.

We, the participants of the International Accessible Tourism Conference, held at Taipei from 5 to 6 May 2005:

Recognizing that tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in Asia and the Pacific, and that people with disabilities and older persons are beginning to enjoy newly found opportunities for travel, sports, cultural, educational and entertainment activities;

Recalling that, to implement the extended Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Person, 2003-2012, the High-level Intergovernmental Meeting to Conclude the Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 1993-2002, held at Otsu, Shiga, Japan, in October 2002, adopted the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action towards an Inclusive, Barrier-free and Rights-based Society for Persons with Disabilities in Asian and the Pacific;

Recalling also the recommendations and Bali Declaration on Barrier-free Tourism for People with Disabilities emerged from the Asia-Pacific Conference on Tourism for People with Disabilities, Bali, Indonesia, in September 2000, and endorsed by the Committee on Transport, Communications, Tourism and Infrastructure Development, held in Bangkok in November 2000;

Recognizing that people with disabilities have equal right of access to all tourist infrastructure, products and services, including employment opportunities and benefits that the tourism industries can provide, and that people with disabilities should be provided with the same choices for all consumers, to ensure their full participation and protection of the individualís right to travel with dignity;

Appreciating that the Eden Social Welfare Foundation and the Asian and Pacific Disability Forum have taken the initiative to organize the above Conference to discuss the major issues relating to accessible tourism for people with disabilities, with a view to formulating action plan to promote barrier-free tourism in the Asian and Pacific region;

Noting that, while 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, most tourism service providers do not yet recognize the importance of this issue, in the absence of explicit government policies and strategies, as well as a lack of training for tourism personnel on the rights and needs of tourists with disabilities and a shortage of tourism programs that are accessible by people with disabilities;

Observing that, Inclusive Destination Development facilitates the social participation of people with disabilities and enables barrier-free economic development by systematically applying the principles of universal design to the creation of tourist destinations;

1. Affirm our commitment to promoting accessible tourism for people with disabilities in countries in the Asian and Pacific region;

2. Develop and implement our empowerment programs, focusing on advocacy, facilitation and negotiation to work more effectively with the tourism industry, government agencies and regional and international organizations to improve existing practices relating to accessibility and to support the tourism industry in introducing universal design principle to tourism for all;

3. Assist in: (a) development of training materials on disability awareness in tourism education and training for use by the tourism industries and related fields, and (b) education and dispatch of experienced trainers with disabilities to training sessions on accessible tourism organized by the tourism industries and government agencies;

4. Ensure that information on accessible tourism be obtainable in accessible formats, including print materials such as brochures and pamphlets, as well as audio and digital medium such as Internet websites, by information and communication disadvantaged groups including older people, and people with hearing and visual impairments.

5. Cooperate internationally in the area of accessible tourism, building upon existing cooperation among countries in the Asian and Pacific region, especially through information and technology sharing to enhance barrier-free environments and transportation, as well as access to information;

6. Initiate collaborative efforts with governments, non-governmental organizations, as well as regional and international organizations concerning traveling and tourism, including International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the World Tourism Organization (WTO), UNESCO, International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Pacific-Asia Travel Association (PATA) and other institutions relevant to tourism, to include disability concerns into mainstream tourism activities;

7. Advocate that upcoming regional and international cultural, sports, entertainment and educational events, programs and sites be fully accessible by people with disabilities, including Hong Kong Disneyland to be open in 2005, and the 2008 Beijing Olympic and Paralympics Games;

8. Form a regional network of concerned individuals, associations, organizations and agencies concerning accessible tourism to exchange ideas and personnel, share information among all the stakeholders and promote study on barrier-free tourism to improve the quality of life through accessible tourism, with a view to achieving world peace;

9. Organize regularly a regional conference on accessible tourism for people with disabilities and older persons every two years, beginning with a Tsunami affected country, to ensure continuity of our efforts to promote accessible and universal tourism.

Posted by rollingrains at May 11, 2005 04:28 PM