World Tourism Day 2016: Promoting Universal Accessibility. Bangkok, Thailand.

Reported by Makara Chea

Soksabike Lead Tour Guide, Battambang- Cambodia


27th, September 2016

World Tourism Day 2016

World Tourism day is the event which was been celebrating every year on 27 of December since 1980 by United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). UNWTO celebrate the World Tourism Day in many Countries every year around the world and various topics were chosen to be presented. World Tourism Day 2016 was held in the amazing city in South East Asia, Bangkok, Thailand. This event was operated by UNWTO, Ministry of Tourism of Thailand, Amazing Thailand and CNN as a media partner. The event was held at SIAM KIMPINSKI Hotel in the heart of Bangkok. There were 500 Participants from 175 countries around the globe who came and participated in Thailand. The Topic of this year’s World Tourism Day was TOURISM FOR ALL, which is used to promote universal accessibility.

2.      Learning and perceptions

The speech from Mr. Xu Jing Executive secretary and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, UNWTO

Mr. Xu Jing raised about the figure of the tourism sector and the problems. Tourism is a Giant sector in the world and there were 1.2 billion people travel abroad each year that make tourism become the powerful economic sector. Everyone have the right to travel and see or visit the world. Yet 1 billion people around the world are living with disability included elderly people, Young children and Disable people with other access requirements. It’s still facing many obstacles in accessing fundamentals of travel. They didn’t get clear information, transportation, and public services. Event today the Technologies are modern that supply the disable with hearing, visual and mobility, but the barriers are being left behind many tourism destinations.

Seminar Session 1: Creating an adequate policy framework

There are the barriers between the disable people in tourism sector, so if we talk about tourism for all it means no one left behind and everyone must go together. We have the right to travel, so they also have the right to travel. Mr. Krisana Lalai is a Thai Journalist/Human right activist and also a promoter of friendly design, he has traveled to many counties around the world in his wheelchair and he tries to promote and inspire people who live with disability to travel. He worked with a lot of disabled people and created the equipment which can help disabled people while they are traveling. Mr. Weerasak Kowsurat, Secretary-general of Thai Disabled is responsible for making sure The Hotels, Tour Agencies and Stakeholder in Thailand  provide the access requirements for disabilities in order to promote accessibility in Thailand. The equipment that supports access for all in the Tourism field includes Toilets, Roads for disabled people, and Clear information for disabled people. All the stakeholders should cooperate on that sector in order to: help the Business market and promote tourism for all.

Session 2. Investing in Universal accessibility

In this section the speakers discussed about the way to do investment in universal accessibility. There are many ways that we can help to promote universal accessibility through Tourism businesses which is a really good way to allow all people access to travel such as:

-          Accessible:

Vehicles, Terminals, Transfer, assistance. The people who need accessibility for traveling is the points that all the stakeholders need to understand the need of all travelers in order for them to access to travel in to any destinations and can enjoy their life the same as everyone.

-          Accessible :

Infrastructure: Attractions, Accommodation, Restaurants, Streets, Beaches:

The stakeholders should make the space for disable in order they can access and see, feel and enjoy the life around them.

-          Accessible :

Services: Hospitality, Packages, Tourist Guiding, Excursions, Special menus, activities, technical aids, Personal assistant.


3.      How the Media can help to advocate accessible tourism

Media is the big part of life. Tourism needs the media in order to promote the Tourism business around the world and region. As a big part of the world Media is also the important points on promoting universal accessibility. Information is a major point that is really important for all travelers. Providing the clear information for all in order to help all travelers easy to access and travel, especially disable people, because they really need assistance and  information in order to reach their destinations. The Media has a large role to play in the tourism sector in the world today and in the future, so it’s also a good way to promote accessibility. Therefore, Media should cooperate and provide clear information for decision makers so everybody can travel, because it’s tourism for all.

4.      Speech by Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O-Cha on Tourism for all in the Global Context.


The Key concept of ‘World Tourism Day 2016’is Tourism for All........ promoting Universal Accessibility This is because tourism or travel is the right of everyone and we should together come up with the way of facilitate and promote tourism for people of all groups, gender and ages. Indeed, it will require a lot of planning and implementation to realize the target in a concrete manner.

Thailand has a great diversity of tourism attraction included cultural, ecological and nature conservation and as well as medical and health tourism. The government is developing additional tourism areas with focus on linking new areas with existing ones. This will facilitate travel and promote local communities to participate in the development of tourism. It will allow Thailand to become a leading quality destinations, one that is based on ”Thainess” and balance growth. It will promote economic and social development, and distributed income to people in all regions of the country in a sustainable fashion. This is in keeping with the vision set in the second national tourism development plan under our 20- year strategy of national development. Tourism is a key factor driving the growth of the national economy. In 2015 more than 30 million tourists visited Thailand, The highest number in south east asia region. It made tourism a large industry of the country, with a fast growth and high annual rate of expansion. it’s created a lot of jobs and vocation and spread income to people living in both urban and rural areas.

5.      The Official Speech on Open ceremony of World Tourism Day 2016

According to the world health organization 15% of world population are handicapped- some physically and mentally and some with diminished sensory motor functions. Additionally, the number of senior citizen is increasing at a quick pace and it is expected that by 2050 people people older 60 will account for more than 20% of the world population and one-fifth (1/5) of this group will be more than 80 years old. There are also babies, temporarily disable people, and families with young children that have to be kept in mind. We also have to look after those groups and give them a good quality of life because this is crucial to the development of human resources and to develop the country.

At the same time, with the change in the global citizens perception and an increased focus on human right issues, there have been successive attempt to eliminate all kind of discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of disability. Tourism for all is thus about acceptance of those with disabilities and giving equal right to all people. Accessible tourism is not compulsory but it is the challenge that the tourism industry will have to face. It is also a golden opportunity for all the countries to consider policies and develop public utilities to meet the need of these groups. This is a key factor in the competition and will determine success in a sustainable manner.     

Accessible Tourism for all is about creating products and services that can be equally enjoyed by persons with disabilities, tourists and locals, families with small children, seniors and everyone else.