New Delhi, March 5: Tourism is a major engine of economic growth and an important source of foreign exchange earnings in many countries including India. However, tourism in India flourished since last four year as the government has taken various steps for the normal tourists as well as for the differently abled tourists.
Notably, Minister of State for Tourism K. J. Alphons in Lok Sabha on Monday in a written reply informed about the steps taken by the government to make tourist destinations friendlier for the differently abled.
(i) While submitting Detailed Project Report of a project under Swadesh Darshan or PRASHAD (National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive) Schemes of the Ministry, State Government/Union Territory Administration has to submit an undertaking in the specified format stating that ‘barrier-free environment for differently abled tourists has been incorporated in the design of the built-up areas of the project’. In addition to this, it is also specifically mentioned in the sanction order of the project that ‘the executing agency shall put in place the mandatory facilities for barrier-free access by physically disabled persons’.
(ii) A category of National Tourism Award of ‘Best Maintained and Disabled Friendly Monument’ is in existence to encourage the agencies responsible for maintaining monuments/tourist attractions to create a barrier-free environment for the promotion of accessible tourism.
(iii) The guidelines for classification/reclassification of Hotels issued by the Ministry of Tourism have provisions for the following:
Specially designed dedicated room with accessible bathroom & specially designed furniture like almirah, audible and visible alarm system and doorbell.
Accessible public restrooms and Ramps with anti-slip floors to allow wheelchair access to public areas and at least one restaurant.
Earlier, the Ministry of Tourism has conducted a study on “Problems and Prospects of Accessible Tourism in India” in the year 2010.
According to the report, differently-abled tourists have to face many barriers at the time of booking and during the travel. Some of them are as below:
i. Poor understanding of their specific problem and requirement by the booking staff.
ii. Lack of accessible taxis and local transport facilities.
iii. Lack of proper information and signages at necessary point and intersection.
iv. Lack of affordable and accessible accommodation.
v. Lack of accessible public conveniences at a destination.