The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism recently announced their intention to tap into the accessible tourism market — a billion-dollar travel sector that has long been overlooked by this Carribbean nation.
The new accessible tourism initiative strives to remove all barriers that would hinder and deny people with disabilities from enjoying easy access to everyday activities.
Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe notes that accessible tourism is an emerging market that the Bahamas needs to embrace. “We want to ensure that when guests come to our shores they can enjoy what we have to offer,” he said.
The initiative calls for infrastructure access audits of the country’s facilities such as hotels, public spaces and ports of entry. Additionally, architects and those responsible for the country’s historic sites and attractions are being advised to be more inclusive in their designs. Finally, tour operators will be apprised of new accessible offerings so they can make them available to their disabled clients.
It is also hoped that the government will consider special incentives for private sector businesses to begin to retrofit their properties in order to cater to this emerging market segment.
Such retrofits would include installing accessible restrooms with grab bars, increasing the width of doors, and including accessible guest rooms, ramps and signage to accommodate wheelchair-users and slow walkers.
Says Director in the Office of the Minister, Janet Johnson “It’s a win-win for everyone. It’s a feel good initiative because we are doing the right thing, while potentially benefiting from a relatively new and lucrative revenue stream.”