What did you do on World Tourism Day? We kick started our multiplier course on the day and onwards, by presenting sustainable tourism and community based tourism to a wide range of audience.
This year’s theme focuses on Tourism for ALL, promoting an inclusive approach to making tourism accessible to everyone anywhere at any time. This targets almost all areas in the tourism sector; policy, infrastructure, transportation, accommodation and services. Everyone deserves a little vacation, but some have limitations that hinder their chance to relax somewhere with a cocktail and lots of sun, or skiing down a mountain (depending on your adventurous spirit). It is not about money. It is about access. Sometimes, infrastructures do not cater for, say, a person with special needs, or an elderly wanting to swim. And it is true, much of the tourism sector, including the activities focus on activities (and the infrastructures + transportation etc…) that only the abled can do. But what if everyone can take a little time out of their daily schedule to relax, without limitations? What if the Tourism industry provides accessible services? No limitations.
Imagine, a child, with special needs, swimming in the sea, not just because he can, but because there are services to aid him? The parents are sitting on the beach watching, free from worry, because there are services that ensure the security of their child, making both the child and the parents accessible to having a good vacation. Inclusive tourism industry, gives everyone the equal opportunity to enjoy life.
And, the cool thing is, STARS project aims to make tourism accessible to local communities, in a different approach, off course, but on the same concept of accessibility. We take tourism to local communities, by helping them create sustainable hikes as a community based tourism approach. Mass tourism has benefited so many huge companies, foreign companies, and locals rarely enjoy the benefits. Taking tourism to communities, getting them to create sustainable hikes, placing value on the local resources and developing them in a sustainable manner brings about local employment and community development. But also, locals get to meet people from other parts of the world, had they had the opportunity to travel.
An inclusive tourism industry should also consider this. Instead of focusing on building infrastructures, and “hotspots”, that are accessible, we should consider getting locals to access the benefits of tourism that contributes to development in their community, so that locals can enjoy the beauty of tourism in their own space as well. Accessibility is therefore twofold: Taking someone to a touristic destination and bringing a tourist to a local destination. If we all have these kinds of access, both the tourist and the service providers have access to the benefits of tourism as a development tool, and that is true accessibility.