The paraplegics association has written to the island’s tourism organisation (CTO) to protest its failure to implement legal provisions for at least five per cent of hotel rooms to be accessible to people with disabilities.
In a letter to the organization, the association said it has been informed that the CTO demands only two to three per cent of rooms to be accessible, and has asked for an explanation.
“We note with disappointment that few hotels in our country have more than three rooms that are accessible by people in wheelchairs and a walk-in shower, resulting in them being unable to accommodate groups of tourists in wheelchairs for holidays or conferences,” the association said.
The association said the CTO should have already resolved the problem, pointing out that Cyprus could be a destination for people with disabilities all year round.
Citing a study carried out by the University of Surrey on behalf of the European Commission, the association said this kind of tourism was worth 394bln in 2012 with 8.7mln jobs in the EU.
“The British are among the biggest customers in this market with a share of about 20 per cent,” the association said.
The UK is Cyprus’ biggest tourist market.
“Please inform us why you decided not to implement the provision of the law for five per cent rooms accessible by people with disabilities, thus downgrading the accessibility of our tourist product, incurring financial and social cost.”
The association demanded the implementation of the law in all hotels that have made, or were in the process of making extensions, hotels currently under construction, and those built after the law was passed years ago.
It also demanded a review of the law to raise the threshold to 10 per cent in a bid to boost the economy and establish the island as a destination for people with disabilities.
In 2012, when the association complained again, the CTO said hoteliers had claimed that the cost of converting five per cent of their rooms was too high.
“It is disappointing that our view to obey the relevant provision was not taken into consideration all these years and it appears you continue not to implement it, maintaining a tourist product that is poor as regards accessibility.”