Thursday, 3 November 2016

SWAZILAND: World Tourism Day - Promoting Universal Accessibility

As Swaziland joins the world to celebrate World Tourism Day with the theme 'Promoting Universal Accessibility' we bring you statements from the Swaziland Minister of Tourism and the UNWTO General Secretary:

Statement by the Swazialnd Minister for Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Jabulani C Mabuza (MP)

"Today marks World Tourism Day (WTD), and the Kingdom of Swaziland joins the rest of the world in celebrating friendships and other milestones attributable to the tourism and travel industry, which has been on an upw ard growth route in the last decade.

As tourism remains a vehicle for connecting people to people, the need for enhancing accessibility by all in the industry cannot be overemphasised. In line with this year’s theme for the World Tourism Month: Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility, His Majesty’s government is desirous to see all tourism establishments enhancing their facilities and operations to accommodate all people; young and aged, able-bodied and disabled, locals and visitors.

This theme coincides with our drive to encourage service excellence in the industry, given the forthcoming and inaugural Tekuvakasha Tourism Awards; hence it is fundamental that universal accessibility becomes a priority in ensuring the same.

As we celebrate this day, I would like to challenge the nation to travel more within the country, and engage with our plentiful tourism products – ranging from game to sport, adventure to leisure, culture to cuisine.

Furthermore, there has to been a paradigm shift in mentality on who should travel, and who should not. Tourism for All escalates tourism as an economic activity into a human right issue. Everyone, regardless of physical, social, and economic state, has a right to partake in it. In this regard, the industry players, hopefully, will do all it takes to enhance experiences for everyone.

Once more, I invite everyone to celebrate this glorious day with us and to be a part of the promotion of tourism for all and the development of universal accessibility."

'Tourism for All!' by Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

"Tourism has experienced a revolution in the past 50 years.

In 1950 there were near 25 million international tourists crossing borders in a single year; today there are around 1.2 billion people travelling the world. Travelling has become a huge part of many people’s lives.

When we travel, we come across new people, new sights, and new ideas. Often our perception of the world changes as we see more of it. We definitely become better people.

However, we must not forget that for many of us, travelling can be quite a difficult process.

15% of the world’s population is estimated to live with some kind of disability or another. This is my friends about 1 billion people around the world who may be unable to enjoy the privileges of knowing other cultures, experiencing nature at its fullest and experiencing the thrill of embarking on a journey to explore new sights and new places.

Accessibility for all should be therefore at the heart and at the center of tourism policies and business strategies. Not as a human rights only which is important on its own, but also as a great market potential and as a great business opportunity.

With the world’s population ageing, all of us will benefit sooner or later from universal accessibility in tourism.

As we celebrate World Tourism Day today, let us recall that all of the world’s citizens have the right to experience the incredible diversity of our planet and the beauty of the world we live in.

We thus urge all countries and destinations, as well as all the industry stakeholders, to promote accessibility for all in the physical environment, in the transport systems, in the public facilities and services and in the information and communications channels.

I wish you a very very happy World Tourism Day and a future full of enriching and compelling travel experiences to be enjoyed by all.