Friday 18 September, 2020

Barbados tourism product lauded for disabled accessibility

Most tourist accomodation and some attractions have made the necessary changes for accessibility for people with disabilities.

The Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, both here and in Canada and the Barbados Tourism Product Authority are showing they are serious about making the island a fully accessible destination for all travellers.

In recent months the BTPA, BTMI and the Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD) have been working in conjunction to draft new legislation to govern building codes for new tourist accommodations as well as bringing those already operating up to scratch.

The work has not gone unnoticed, as was pointed out by Jeff Thiessen, President and Publisher of Disability Today Network.

Thiessen, along with Deborah Millington of the BTMI in Toronto and Dena Gouweloos, a communications specialist with the BTMI, has been on island conducting site visits to determine Barbados' status for accessibility for those with disabilities.

Thiessen gave the island a thumbs up:

“You would have to understand the fear that a traveler with a disability would have, to arrive in a country not knowing will I be able to get into my hotel room, will I find a restaurant that I can eat in.

This is a place that, unlike most others in the Caribbean, is leaps and bounds ahead of the other countries.”

The group visited various attractions including Andromeda Gardens, Port Ferdinand, Speightstown Sizzling and a range of hotels including Rostrevor Hotel, Accra Beach Hotel and The Club Barbados.

Thiesseen said, while he would not want to give the impression that everything is fully accessible, he said the accommodating attitudes of the hotel staff and members of the public shows the sector is on the right track.

“To be perfect in every area is unreasonable, in your country and mine. We are just going to have to do our best to accommodate as many as possible and I do see that happening here.”

Thiessen became a double arm amputee at the age of 11 following an electrical injury. He noted, apart from the usual access for tourist accommodations he was pleased by the fact disabled visitors had an opportunity to participate in water sports and see other attractions. He added there was still much work to be done in this area and he believed the BCD was moving in the right direction. 

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