Kerala to be the first state to implement UNWTO’s ‘Tourism for All’

Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran addressing the gathering

Kerala Tourism has launched the first phase of its ambitious Barrier-free Kerala tourism project on 4th March 2019, making 70 destinations across the state disabled and elderly friendly, becoming the first state in India to implement UN World Tourism Organization’s call for ‘Tourism for All.

Inaugurating Phase One of the project, Kadakampally Surendran, Minister Tourism said that the state’s objective was to make all tourism centers accessible to the differently abled by 2021.

“Special tour packages for differently empowered tourists, both domestic and foreign, are being planned together with Responsible Tourism Mission,” said the minister.

The minister also released the logo of the Barrier-free Kerala project in the presence of differently empowered persons.

Of the 120 centers envisaged in Phase One, 70 centers have been equipped for the differently abled with accessible ramps, special toilets, wheelchairs, walking sticks, folding walkers, crutches, special signage, tactile walkways, touch screen kiosks, Braille brochures, audio guides, to name some. The outlay for the project is Rs 9 core.

Presiding over the event, Tourism Secretary Rani George said that in foreign countries, differently abled people visit and experience tourist centers all by themselves, without any help or assistance.

“Tourism centers in Kerala, which is implementing innovative projects such as ‘Human by Nature’, should also grow to that level,” said Rani George.

The secretary also called for the participation of private entrepreneurs to make all centers in the state barrier-free.

P Bala Kiran, Tourism Director said that all tourism projects henceforth would be made barrier-free.

“261 ramps, 116 toilets, 163 wheelchairs, 170 walking sticks, 958 signage and 159 crutches have been provided in various centers so far, in accordance with ‘The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016,” said Bala Kiran.

The event also saw Kerala Tourism enter into a long-term Cultural Exchange Programme with Manchester city in UK. The official letter authenticating the Exchange Programme was handed over to the Minister by Wilson Mathews, Former President, Manchester Malayali Association.

Three artists from Kerala will participate in Manchester Day Parade, one of UK’s major pageantry. The expenses of the artists participating in the pageantry will be borne by Manchester City Provincial Art Council.

KG Mohanlal, CMD, Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Limited; Anish Kumar, MD, Travel Planners, PP Pramod, Director, Ecotourism; KV Ravishankar, Tourism Advisory Board Member; K Rupesh Kumar, State Coordinator, Responsible Tourism Mission and Nandakumar, Joint Director, Tourism spoke on the occasion.