| July 19, 2019
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Call to promote 'accessible tourism'

KATHMANDU, Dec 3: Tourism stakeholders have underscored the need to make all tourism destinations accessible for people having physical disabilities as well as elderly people.

Speaking at an interaction organized by Four Season Travel & Tours in partnership with US Embassy in Kathmandu and International Development Institution (IDI) to mark International Day of People with Disability on Tuesday, they said there is a need to make people aware about 'inclusive or accessible tourism' which is very new to Nepal.
Pankaj Pradhananga, operation director of Four Season Travel & Tours, said though efforts for opening Nepal up for accessible or inclusive tourism has already begun, it is still in its infancy. "In the western world, inclusive tourism is already a mainstream market segment. As per the data, US-outbound spending by travelers with disabilities is worth $ 17.3 billion. With the growing life expectancy worldwide, tourism industry will get more elderly travelers with less mobility. By promoting inclusive tourism, we can attract such travelers in large numbers in Nepal," he added.

As Nepal is working hard to successfully reposition its destination image after the April earthquake, stakeholders say it is the right time to focus on inclusive tourism in the process of rebuilding the monuments and tourist facilities making it more accessible.

Normally, tourists with disabilities travel on 'word of mouth' publicity and they tend to stay longer than the average length of stay. "If any people tell people with disability that the tourist destination is friendly for them, they have the tendency and eagerness to visit that place," Pradhananga said. "They travel with companions or in small groups hence this would reward the destination with greater revenue."

In the context of Nepal, it is expected that that inclusive tourism promotion would also enable local representative organizations or groups of persons with disabilities (DPOs) to get connected with the international travelers with disabilities. It will enable them to share, learn and earn in more dignified manner from this smokeless industry, experts said at the program.

To promote inclusive tourism, experts say the country make infrastructures, facilities, hotels which are build to cater international as well as domestic tourists, friendly for people with disability as well as elderly people.

Speaking at the program, Willam Holton, cultural affairs officer at US Embassy in Kathmandu, advocated about the rights of people with disability and said that they have to be given equal opportunity and good facilities so that they can also travel to different places.