Call for tourism focus on disabled

NEEDS LISTED: Anele Qaba spoke out for more ser vices for disabled tourists as industry players gathered yesterday Picture: GILLIAN McAINSH
NEEDS LISTED: Anele Qaba spoke out for more ser vices for disabled tourists as industry players gathered yesterday

Accessibility for all emphasised at start of campaign

Nelson Mandela Bay needs to improve its tourism products and, in particular, access for visitors with disabilities and special needs, municipal economic development, tourism and agriculture executive director Anele Qaba said yesterday.

He was speaking at a function – co-hosted by the municipality, Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism and the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency – on the first day of “Tourism Month” at the Tramways Building in Port Elizabeth. “Tourism For All” was the important theme for the month, Qaba said.

He questioned whether the Bay’s tourism facilities were “disabled-friendly”.

“If not, we need to encourage all of our tourism stakeholders to provide platforms that promote access by those abled differently, ” he said.

“Can all of our tour guides communicate with people abled differently? For example, can they all use sign language for those visitors who can’t hear?”

Qaba turned to Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism head Mandlakazi Skefile and asked: “Do we have some of our brochures in braille for those visitors who can’t see?”

“We have a huge task at hand to create this desired approach to tourism anchored on creating full access by all into the tourism mainstream.”

“It is important that we create an environment that caters for people who are abled differently and those having special needs. ”

“This is not just a human rights issue, but an excellent tourism opportunity.”

Mayoral committee economic development, tourism and agriculture head Andrew Whitfield agreed that restricted access to the disabled was a critical shortcoming.

In addition, affordability and accessibility went hand in hand, and travel remained a prohibitive cost for many South Africans.

But Whitfield said the region had the makings of a worldclass tourism destination and “Nelson Mandela Bay is a fun, family-friendly and affordable destination for all”.

The launch highlighted activities over September:

  •  The tourism minister will open SANParks Week at Addo Elephant National Park on September 11;
  •  NMBT and SA Tourism have been hosting an Australian film crew this week;
  •  Musicians Lira and Judith Sephuma went on a walking tour of Route 67 ahead of their concert, Divas in Spring, on Sunday;
  •  A Bay photography exhibition of Instagram images is open at the Athenaeum until the end of the month;
  •  Also, in an increased focus on social media, NMBT is hosting an Eastern Cape bloggers meet-up on September 17;
  •  NMMU will host a tourism society conference and ECPTA will give a tour guide course;
  •  A trade delegation from the UK will visit, and ECPTA and NMBT will exhibit at the Gauteng Getaway Show.

    Qaba said tourism was one way of helping stabilise and grow the economy.“Can our visitors easily access our public facilities and services, can they easily access our beaches, parks, ablution facilities?”

    “In a nutshell, we need to improve the quality of our tourism products and accessible tourism for all should top our developmental agenda and policies.”

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