Even though Kerala is one of the most beautiful tropical destinations in the world,  several tourist spots in the state remain out of the bounds for physically challenged tourists. State Tourism Department has now come up with a project to make the tourism destinations 'accessible to all' with tourism services, infrastructure and products for travellers with disabilities. 

 

The project is implemented as part of an initiative to fulfil United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) goal of 'Tourism to All.' 

 

Facilities will be provided to ensure free movement of those with hearing, mobility, visual or cognitive impairments. Department will introduce specially designed ramps, wheelchair lifts and non-slippery tiles on the walkways to ensure smooth movement to the elderly and disabled. 

 

"We will ensure that basic facilities for recreation and leisure at all tourist destinations in the state are accessible to people with disabilities. The first phase will be implemented at Fort Kochi by December this year," Tourism Minister A C Moideen said. 


Electric wheelchairs, walking sticks and crutches will be made available at travel assistance centres. Special restrooms will be provided at resorts, hotels and houseboats. Food outlets will be made accessible for those with special needs. 

 

Handrails made of cast iron and projected standing areas will be built to ensure convenient viewing of Chinese fishing nets, one of the biggest attractions in the historic town of Fort Kochi. Sliding doors and grab bars will be constructed to ensure hassle-free movement. Spill out spaces and eateries that can be accessed through the ramps will be arranged every 30 meters of the walkway. 


Training in sign language will be given to guides and personnel manning information counters. Tactile maps, signages in Braille and recorded information will be made accessible for visually impaired. Apart from this, Kerala Tourism will also ensure proper toilet facility for the disabled. 


The second destination to become physically-challenged friendly is Shanghumukah near the capital city. Apart from the ongoing renovation work at an estimate of Rs 1.2 crore, Tourism Department will develop disabled friendly ramps and walkways. "Another plan is to lay special mats to facilitate free movement of wheel-chair bound tourists through the beach," Tourism Department additional director (general) T V Anupama. 


Travellers with disabilities along with their caregivers and relatives constitute a sizeable chunk of the tourism market. World Health Organisation estimates reveal that as many as 1 billion people in the world live with some sort of disability.