Traveling can be challenging for those who have impairments. The lack of adapted and accessible hotel rooms, restaurants, stores, bathrooms, and public spaces is one of the most significant challenges.
Through the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA), South African Tourism works in partnership with all key stakeholders to create awareness and encourage tourism businesses, operators and establishments to implement best-practice standards and be universally accessible to all travellers.
TGCSA, as the custodians of quality assurance and service excellence, has universal accessibility criteria which ensures that accredited establishments are able to provide guests with universally accessible tourism product offerings that comply with global standards. Universal Accessibility (UA) refers to the design of products and services that are accessible to all people. It ensures that all individuals, regardless of their socio-economic class, ethnicity, or physical disability, have equal access to services and products for their benefit.
“Tourism is open for all to enjoy however, persons living with disabilities still face challenges such as inaccessible hotel and accommodation establishments,” says Acting Chief Quality Bureau Office of TGCSA, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo.
In raising awareness on issues related to lack of accessible services, the International Day for Persons with Disabilities is observed annually on 3 December. The day aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development. The United Nations (UN) has declared the theme for 2021 International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) as “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”
According to the World Report on Disability, released by the World Health Organization – globally, it is estimated that there are over one billion (or about 15% of the world’s population) people living with disabilities, in addition there are more than two billion people, such as spouses, children and caregivers of persons with disabilities.
“This year, International Day of Persons with Disabilities should be used to recognise that people who live with disabilities are among the most marginalised and discriminated against population. As a tourism industry we need to pull together for more meaningful investments into the socio-economic building blocks which will reduce the barriers that prevent persons living with disabilities from travelling,” concludes Kotze-Nhlapo.
As a welcoming and inclusive destination, South Africa boasts an array of universally accessible quality assured tourism products and experiences.