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World Tourism Day and the End of Football

The Winterville Mounds in Mississippi are a fascinating insight into the cultural history of the Native Americans, dating back almost 1,000 years. The story of these solid, man-made mounds was made all the more amazing by having the opportunity to climb to the top, once again taking for granted our freedom of mobility.  World Tourism Day 2016 - Tourism for All

The Winterville Mounds in Mississippi are a fascinating insight into the cultural history of the Native Americans, dating back almost 1,000 years. The story of these solid, man-made mounds was made all the more amazing by having the opportunity to climb to the top, once again taking for granted our freedom of mobility.
World Tourism Day 2016 – Tourism for All

Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility | Darrin Henry

Tearing the cartilage in my knee a few months ago while playing football gave me my first real glimpse of appreciation for how daunting everyday mobility can be for people with disabilities.

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#tourism4all #WTD2016

A small flight of steps is not something that usually bothers the vast majority of us. Crossing the road, climbing in and out of a car or just bending down to tie shoe laces are tasks most of us do on auto-pilot.

But these things represent a challenging obstacle course for those with mobility difficulties in ways able bodied people may struggle to imagine.

This year’s World Tourism Day on 27 September, 2016, has adopted a theme of accessible tourism, entitled: Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility.

World Tourism Day has been driven for the last quarter-century by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

Patched up and injected with pain killer, a couple of hours after injuring my knee on the football pitch, preparing to leave the hospital. The recovery process begins and my first experience of accessibility limitations.  World Tourism Day 2016 - Tourism for All

Patched up and injected with pain killer, a couple of hours after injuring my knee on the football pitch, preparing to leave the hospital. The recovery process begins and my first experience of accessibility limitations.
World Tourism Day 2016 – Tourism for All

Visiting the historic Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia. Accessibility is very limited at this major tourism site for anyone not able to negotiate the ancient stone walkways and steep stairs on their own. World Tourism Day 2016 - Tourism for All

Visiting the historic Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia. Accessibility is very limited at this major tourism site for anyone not able to negotiate the ancient stone walkways and steep stairs on their own.
World Tourism Day 2016 – Tourism for All

One Billion People Left Behind

In his official message, United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, said:

Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis. Yet 1 billion people around the world living with disability, along with young children, seniors and persons with other access requirements, still face obstacles in accessing fundamentals of travel such as clear and reliable information, efficient transportation and public services, and a physical environment that is easy to navigate.  Even with modern technologies, those with visual, hearing, mobility or cognitive impairments are being left behind in many tourism destinations.

Wow, a billion people living with disabilities. That’s approximately one in seven people on the planet. (World Bank pop. stats)

One of the highlights of our day out in Oxford City, in England, was climbing to the top of the 14th century Carfax Tower for a bird's eye view of the streets below. Looking back, this winding staircase and the confined spaces of this tourist attraction is not accessible friendly.

One of the highlights of our day out in Oxford City, in England, was climbing to the top of the 14th century Carfax Tower for a bird’s eye view of the streets below. Looking back, this winding staircase and the confined spaces of this tourist attraction is not accessible friendly.

Time To Hang Up The Boots

Recalling places I’ve been lucky enough to visit I realise now that most of that would have been 10 times more difficult if not impossible, had I not been fully mobile. Probably the most vulnerable I’ve felt as a tourist is not being able to speak the language, which still isn’t close to being physically restricted.

In a few locations, particularly big city centres, I’ve seen buildings and attractions clearly designed with accessibility in mind, but more often than not, these features often seem like a tacked on afterthought in a lot of other places. I’m ashamed to have not even given the whole issue much consideration previously.

Entry to St Helena continues to be via the sea port of Jamestown. Without berthing facilities, visiting ships are forced to anchor off-shore and tourists transfer to small boats for the journey to shore. For people unable to manage the gangway, often including medevacs, disabled and elderly, this 'air taxi' is used, lifted by cranes onto the barges for the ship to shore journey. Sea access to the island was due to be overtaken by air access in 2016, but problems with wind shear have delayed the opening of the airport.

Entry to St Helena continues to be via the sea port of Jamestown. Without berthing facilities, visiting ships are forced to anchor off-shore and tourists transfer to small boats for the journey to shore. For people unable to manage the gangway, often including medevacs, disabled and elderly, this ‘air taxi’ is used, lifted by cranes onto the barges for the ship to shore journey. Sea access to the island was due to be overtaken by air access in 2016, but problems with wind shear have delayed the opening of the St Helena Airport.

More than three months on from (sadly) the end of my illustrious ‘football career’ (the knees have spoken) I am nearly back to normal-ish fitness and a post box walk should be possible soon. Perhaps not The Barn just yet but hiking Flagstaff should be ok.

The Cost Of Accessibility

I’m extremely grateful my time on crutches was brief and also for the marvel of keyhole surgery.

But I’m now just that little bit more aware of door steps, the edge of pavements and uneven surfaces and the hazard they represent to one in seven people. And it’s not just here on St Helena; when I consider my time as a tourist in other countries, much of what I’ve experienced was not designed with accessibility in mind.

The main street pavements in Jamestown, St Helena, were given a major upgrade two years ago. New paving slabs were laid the length of the street making the walkways instantly more attractive and safer to use, for everyone including tourists. Bollards were also installed for the first time, another improved safety feature for pedestrians. World Tourism Day 2016 - Tourism for All

The main street pavements in Jamestown, St Helena, were given a major upgrade two years ago. New paving slabs were laid the length of the street making the walkways instantly more attractive and safer to use, for everyone including tourists. Bollards were also installed for the first time, another improved safety feature for pedestrians.
World Tourism Day 2016 – Tourism for All

It’s a monster mission facing tourism industries all over the world – accessibility. Especially the costs of modifying heritage sites built hundreds of years before accessibility ever raised its hand for attention. It is going to take time.

However, on an optimistic note, tourism facilities that cater for disabilities means access to a minority market of a billion people! That’s a lot of pound signs whichever way you look at it and hopefully incentive to help towards achieving the goal of universal accessibility.

One of our favourite excursions in Vietnam was the Surprising Sung Sot Cave in Halong Bay. Even though these spectacular limestone caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site the steep stairways, uneven and narrow pathways means it is only for able bodied tourists. Until now I had not even considered how lucky I was in this regard or that the tour is off limits to a large number of people. World Tourism Day 2016 - Tourism for All

One of our favourite excursions in Vietnam was the Surprising Sung Sot Cave in Halong Bay. Even though these spectacular limestone caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site the steep stairways, uneven and narrow pathways means it is only for able bodied tourists. Until now I had not even considered how lucky I was in this regard or that the tour is off limits to a large number of people.
World Tourism Day 2016 – Tourism for All

World Tourism Day 2016 – official information

The UNWTO calls on tourism actors and stakeholders to spread the word of both the importance and immense benefits universal accessibility has and can bring to society at large.

Ever since its inception, World Tourism Day is celebrated on 27 September to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. As the official day set aside in the United Nations Calendar the celebration seeks to highlight tourisms potential to contribute to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing some of the most pressing challenges society is faced with today.

The official World Tourism Day 2016 celebrations will be held in Bangkok, Thailand

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