Tourists with Disabilities Offer Opportunities to India, says Dr Scott Rains
For Immediate Release:
Experts on the Disability Tourism Market to Tour India
July 9, 2008
“India is amazing!,” says Dr. Scott Rains publisher of the travel industry Rolling Rains Report.
“It is poised to show the world a new face of tourism. It can do that if it has the wisdom and will to act on new international business data about the travel behavior of people with disabilities,” he encourages. “With major government and industry investment in new hotels, airports, rail and bus transport at a time when inbound tourism continues to rise India could create an accessible tourism infrastructure that is the envy of the world – and profit in the process of making life easier for its own citizens with disabilities.”
Dr. Rains will address these opportunities for the Indian tourism industry in a four-city workshop tour sponsored by ASTA-India. The workshops being in New Delhi at the Surya Crown Plaza on July 28 at 0930. Session will follow in Mumbai 30th July, Kochi 1st August, and Chennai 4th August. Further information is available from ASTA India Coordinator Deepika Chowdhry:
Craig Grimes, a tour operator and wheelchair user from the UK who is opening Central America to travelers with disabilities will speak. His most recent project incudes training Nicaraguan tour guides in American Sign Language. ( http://www.craiggrimes.com/ ) Also speaking is Jani Nayar, Executive Coordinator of SATH (Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality).
Travel professionals worldwide recognize the burgeoning market of travelers with disabilities.
The 2002 biennial study of the travel behavior of the US travel market by Open Doors Organization and Harris Interactive revealed that the 42 million people in the US with disabilities spend on average $13.6 billion US on travel. As the trend continues, and the aging post-WW II population boom ages en masse, organizations such as ASTA-India have begun alerting their membership to the competitive edge available in providing competent service to this market sector.
India has seen a nearly 100% increase in tourism in the past five years – five million visitors last year according to government figures.
Between 1996 and 2006, the Indian outbound market expanded nearly 10% per year. In 1996, Indians made nearly 3.5 million trips. By 2006, the number of outbound trips topped 8.3 million. These outbound numbers combined with a double-digit growth rate in inbound last year to around 5 million make India “one of the shining stars” in Asia Pacific travel and tourism, according to PATA’s Strategic Intelligence Centre. (source: PATA News)
“With a potential market of 500 million domestic tourists and ambitious projects underway to upgrade train and air terminals India is poised to demonstrate world leadership in the social inclusion of its own citizens by targeting the disability travel niche if it follows the example of other countries and applies Universal Design in destination development,” notes Dr. Rains. Universal Design is a set of seven principles outlining, according to Adaptive Environments, “a framework for the design of places, things, information, communication and policy to be usable by the widest range of people operating in the widest range of situations without special or separate design. Most simply, Universal Design is human-centered design of everything with everyone in mind.”
“Pioneers like ASTA India show great foresight in emphasizing our community as a market,” says Rains.
“I am a quadriplegic and have used a wheelchair since I was 17 in 1972. I have recently returned from addressing the second international conference on Inclusive Tourism in Bangkok (ICAT 2007) sponsored by UNESCAP, a kayaking tour of Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska with the wheelchair-friendly yacht Sea Wolf organized by Waypoint Yacht Charter Services, and a site inspection of one of Brazil’s foremost adventure tourism resorts, Parque dos Sonhos in Socorro Brazil, where I rode a one kilometer long zipline from mountaintop to mountaintop. Tourism in our community is growing in size, wealth, and sophistication. Whether it is developing accessible heritage tourism in Agra, accessible water tours in Kerala, or accessible adventure tourism in Gujarat India is poised to become a leader in Inclusive Tourism and could become a destination of choice for a community that the UN estimates at 500 million persons.”
Organizations are rising to the challenge set out by Tourism Minister Ambika Soni. In the current global environment investors are aggressively seeking infrastructure projects as safe havens of profit. A campaign of Inclusive Destination Development in India gives investors what they are looking for plus the peace of mind of supporting a socially responsible initiative.
Already Indian organizations like Svayam, AccessAbility, the Disability Rights Initiative of the India Centre for Human Rights and Law, and Design for All – India have done the initial preparation.
“Their work can be applied to development of the twenty Indian mega-destination sites announced by Minister Soni at the Great Indian Travel Bazaar-2008. Minister Soni’s announcement of seven Indian tourism circuits of three destinations each will be enhanced by application of the concept known within the disability as “accessible paths of travel” as India adopts the path of Inclusive Destination Development that is grounded in Universal Design,” commented Rains. “One of the outcomes of my visit will be greater communication between Indian experts in the travel, destination development, and disability fields as Indian quickly develops its own contributions to the global growth of travel opportunities that tap into the purchasing power of the disability community.
Thank you to Dr. Scott Rains for submitting this press release for publication at We Can Do.
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