March 6: As many as 70 destinations across Kerala has been made disabled and elderly friendly, thereby main Kerala the first state in India to implement the UN World Tourism Organisation’s call for ‘Tourism for All. The first phase of Kerala Tourism’s ambitious Barrier-free Kerala Tourism Project has been rolled out.
Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran, who inaugurated the Phase One of the project, said the state loos forward to make all tourism centres accessible to the differently empowered by 2021. Special tour packages for differently empowered tourists, both domestic and foreign, are being planned together with Responsible Tourism Mission.
Kerala has become the first state in India to implement UN World Tourism Organisation’s call for ‘Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility” in 2016, the Minister added. Of the 120 centres envisaged in Phase One, 70 centres have been equipped for the differently empowered with accessible ramps, special toilets, wheelchairs, walking sticks, folding walkers, crutches, special signages, tactile walkways, touch screen kiosks, Braille brochures, audio guides, to name some. The outlay for the project is Rs 9 crore.
According to Kerala’s Tourism Secretary Rani George said, “In foreign countries, we see the differently empowered people visit and experience tourist centres all by themselves, without any help or assistance. Tourism centres in Kerala, which are implementing innovative projects such as ‘Human by Nature’ , should also grow to that level”. She also called for the participation of private entrepreneurs to make all centres in the state barrier-free.
Kerala Tourism Director P Bala Kiran said that all tourism projects henceforth would be made barrier-free. In accordance with ‘The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016’, 261 ramps, 116 toilets, 163 wheelchairs, 170 walking sticks, 958 signages and 159 crutches have been provided in various centres thus far.