A recent panel discussion at an accessible tourism seminar saw participants rallying for a travel industry that is friendly to people with disabilities
It’s high time to drive efforts in making Malaysia a reputable accessible tourism destination, said Tourism and Culture Ministry (Motac) deputy secretary-general (tourism) Datuk Rashidi Hasbullah.
Speaking at a panel discussion during an accessible tourism seminar on Feb 7 at the Malaysia Tourism Centre (Matic), Rashidi said both the public and private sectors have to work together to make the country more friendly towards people with disabilities.
“When you mention the travel industry, you have to include everyone,” he said, adding that it’s equally important that the industry be inclusive to travellers with disabilities as well.
His pledge came after some local participants at the seminar related troubles encountered while conducting tours for disabled travellers.
Some complaints brought up were the lack of wheelchair service at KLIA2, proper maintenance of accessible facilities and lack of information and promotion regarding travel packages for disabled travellers.
“We will work closely together with travel providers,” Rashidi said in response to the lack of accessible tourism promotions by the ministry, adding that he will look into the matter of wheelchair services at KLIA2.
Responding to the maintenance of facilities, Rashidi said it’s a collective responsibility.
“We as Malaysians need to work together and take care of the infrastructure provided by the government,” he said.
Challenges Media (an NGO) director Mary Chen urged the ministry to set up a task force to oversee the accessible tourism market.
“People with disabilities is the biggest minority in the world and it’s growing because society is ageing,” she said, adding that the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has done a good job in providing accessible facilities such as ramps to buildings.
The development of accessible tourism services is one of the core initiative under the DBKL’s Strategic Plan for 2010-2020.
Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau chief heritage guide Jane Rai welcomed the ministry and DBKL’s efforts in catering to accessible tourism.
The seminar – a collaboration between Motac and the Asean-Japan Centre – was aimed at educating tourism industry players on providing universal access to tourists. The event was a follow-up from a first seminar which was held in Tokyo, Japan in October last year.