Cyprus could do much more to promote universal accessibility and inclusion for disabled tourists, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) and hoteliers said on Monday.
The comments came to mark World Tourism Day on Tuesday, whose theme this year is ‘Tourism for All’.
“It invites us to realise and remember that each person, regardless of motor, cognitive or sensory difficulties should have access to tourism services, transport means to explore the natural environment, museums, shops, restaurants, hotels and other facilities,” the CTO said in a statement.
With one billion people around the world having some form of disability, ‘Tourism for All’ should be more than a slogan and should be part of policies and business strategies, it added.
“Accessible tourism has only positive effects, not just for the few but for all of society. More people are able to travel and tour, businesses draw more visitors for longer seasons and with additional income, new jobs are created etc.”
Cyprus, it said, had seen major advances in accessibility in recent years. However, the general finding was that there was considerable room for improvement to reach desirable levels.
The CTO said it was doing what it could in terms of awareness, facilities and campaigns to “embrace the issue of improving accessibility to and from our beaches”.
Between 2010-2016 six subsidised automated sea access mechanisms (Seatracs) had been installed at various beaches at Polis in Paphos, Vrysi in Paralimni, Vathia Gonia in Ayia Napa, and Olympion Beach in Limassol.
The Polis campsite had also installed ten disabled access corridors and bought six wheelchairs for the beach, and chair lift.
“Such facilities give a positive image of our country and also show our respect for diversity,” the CTO said.
Cyprus Hotel Association president Haris Loizides said that with 15 per cent of the world’s population living with some form of disability, many are not always in a position to enjoy all that the tourism has to offer.
Loizides said that despite significant progress in offering more facilities in Cyprus it was imperative that this improvement continued through a comprehensive, long-term strategy. “A lot of work still needs to be done to fully satisfy the needs of this specialised group of tourists,” he said.
“The benefits from ensuring universal accessibility for all citizens without exception will be massive on every level: economic, social and cultural.”