As the dazzling beaches and mystical mountains of the Philippines draw an increasing number of tourists, the country is keen that its touristic offer is enjoyed by all, including persons with disabilities (PWDs).
The Philippines has seen consistent growth in tourist arrivals from the Middle East. In 2017, the Philippines received a total of 89,932 tourists from the region. Arrivals from Saudi Arabia and UAE, the two largest markets in the region for the Philippines, reached 54,716 and 16,399, respectively.
The Philippine Department Of Tourism (PDOT) aims to achieve 100,000 tourists from the Middle East by the end of 2018 and proactively developing strategic partnerships with key stakeholders in the Middle East to capture a sizeable percentage of its high-yield tourist market.
One of the key strategies to attract more visitors is to provide barrier-free tourism facilities to persons with disabilities.
The PDOT has announced cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to develop infrastructure to provide barrier-free tourism.
"The Philippines has always been very supportive and now more than ever vigilant in its promotion of the principles of ‘Tourism for All,’ promoting universal accessibility,” said Department of Tourism Undersecretary for Tourism Development Planning Benito Bengzon Jr.
Creating a barrier-free travel experience for PWDs in the Philippines was the focal point of the Asean-Japan Accessible Tourism Seminar hosted by the DOT, together with the Asean-Japan Center and the National Council on Disability.
Participants observed that hospitality services for PWDs are often overlooked by establishments causing hindrances during travel because of limited facilities - from sidewalks, ramps, wheelchair-lifts for cars, to bathrooms, and toilets, including audio and visual guides.
In response to the issues, Asean member states have started creating facilities and identifying infrastructures to be developed in order to provide better accessibility and reduce barriers for PWDs.
During the seminar, representatives from Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines presented technological and infrastructure advances, and barrier-free tour products specifically designed for wheelchair users, and visually and hearing-impaired travellers, as well as the areas of improvement in the said aspects.
Areas of focus also identified in providing accessibility to PWDs were transportation, lodging, and architecture, as well as communication aides.
Bengzon said raising awareness on PWD challenges and advocating for their inclusion in travel destinations are the primary goals of accessible tourism.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
Published monthly by Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group, the region’s foremost trade publisher, TTN is aimed at professionals in the industry, from travel agents to airline and hotel personnel.
TTN provides in-depth and extensive coverage of relevant issues in the Middle East and North Africa as well as in other parts of the world. Travel related news, analysis, and new appointments together with information on up-coming exhibitions, marketing and promotional campaigns are presented in an innovative and striking colour tabloid.
Every issue also contains a collation of international and regional news and topical features of interest to readers.