Providenciales, TCI, September 28, 2016 – Turks and Caicos should be able to welcome in any kind of traveler and destination marketing should promote that fact, but before we get to promoting, we have to get to actually ensuring that we are an accessible destination. Tourism Minister, Hon Porsha Smith in a statement delivered on September 27, which was World Tourism Day said these islands should be able to provide a full experience for anyone visiting, including those who are wheelchair bound.
It was a very serious theme for World Tourism Day this year – “Tourism for All. Promoting Universal Accessibility” – calling on destinations to make sure there is accessibility so that any traveler is able to enjoy their travel experience.
TCI now has to step back and ask, ‘can a person in a wheelchair or an older person with a walking stick, for example, access our water sports, our beaches, our shops and shopping centers, can they easily maneuver in our restaurants and does our infrastructure support those who are physically hampered in any way?’ UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon said ‘no,’ in his remarks of yesterday; that many nations have still not sufficiently addressed the issue of true accessibility.
“…while almost 1.2 billion people are travelling aboard each year, close to one billion persons with disability, along with young children, older persons and persons with other access requirements, still face obstacles in accessing the most basic travel needs such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate.”
The Tourism Minister expressed that she believes the TCI can get there though, her comments in that national address expressed this: “The Turks and Caicos Islands is a part of the global tourism move, as such, tourism should be attainable to all irrespective of a person’s physical limitation, disability or age, travel is for all to experience and embrace on an equal basis. It is therefore incumbent upon the Turks and Caicos Islands as one of the top travel destinations in the region to build upon, and improve on accessible tourism products and services; which will only place our country in an even better position as it relates to marketing. I am confident in the hospitality of our people, and as a country proud to welcome and engage visitors from all walks of life.”
Secretary General of Tourism for the United Nations, Taleb Rifai explained that the nations which take the time to enhance accessibility will become the dominant destinations, “… travelling has become a major part in many lives and with the world’s population ageing, everyone sooner or later will benefit from universal accessibility in tourism.”