Thursday, 03 December 2020, is International Day of People with Disabilities and the end of National Disability Rights Awareness Month in South Africa. Both occasions aim to promote the rights and well-being of people who have disabilities – which is estimated to be one billion people worldwide.

UNESCAP believes that the potential global market for Universal Accessible Tourism is 650 million people with differing disabilities and 600 million elderly people.

A significant goal within these awareness campaigns is to improve the accessibility of services and products that can benefit persons with disabilities. Living with a disability often inadvertently excludes people from taking part in many aspects of ‘normal’ life, including travel and tourism, because of accessibility issues. And yet the United Nations Social and Economic Council (UNESCAP) believes that the potential global market for Universal Accessible Tourism (UAT) is 650 million people with differing disabilities and 600 million elderly people. This is a huge and largely untapped market.

South African Tourism is urging the tourism sector to strive for universal accessibility, not only because it is a human rights imperative, but because it is also an exceptional business opportunity.

South African Tourism is urging the tourism sector to strive for universal accessibility, not only because it is a human rights imperative, but because it is also an exceptional business opportunity.

Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, Chief Convention Bureau Officer at South African Tourism, says, “I would like to appeal to the role players in our industry to make universal access a priority by ensuring that all tourist attractions and establishments are not only quality assured through grading but also universally accessible. This includes catering for those disabilities that are not immediately visible. It is our responsibility to ensure the same access opportunities to attractions and experiences for everyone.”

The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa can assist tourism businesses on their journey to be universally accessible to all travellers, and South African Tourism encourages all stakeholders to take advantage of this resource.