In 2019, the Kerala government had announced that it'll make the entire state, especially its tourist destinations, disabled-friendly by 2021. A program started by Kerala's tourism's Barrier-Free Tourism Project has now received global recognition as the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) made a special mention about Kerala for the Emerging Global Destination in the Accessible Destination Awards 2019.
Well, the special mention was in place for Kerala being the first to work as per the UNWTO guidelines for making tourist destinations disabled-friendly and we surely do need these places in numbers, across the country. The recognition though was for the implementation of the project in Thrissur, which is India's first disabled-friendly destination to win the honour.
The award is given by the World Tourism Organization and ONCE Foundation that works for people with disabilities. The awards at the Spanish capital were given away as part of FITUR Trade Fair, which is a meeting point for tourism professionals the world over and is the second-biggest global gathering of travel and tourism professionals.
In March last year, Kerala introduced the barrier-free project in order to make at least 120 destinations within the state disabled-friendly. In October, Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran had said that 98 destinations out of the 120 tourist spots across the state which were identified for the first phase have already been made completely disabled-friendly. Thrissur was amongst the first only because it's the cultural capital of Kerala, one of the first few destinations in the state, to create the complete infrastructure in all its destinations like Azhikode and Snehatheeram, the hill destination of Vilangankunnu and the scenic dams in Poomala and Vazhani.
The upcoming project include Chavakkad Beach, Peechi and Thumboormuzhi. The facilities include ramps, accessible toilets, lactation rooms, Braille pamphlets, signage, touch-screen kiosks, audio and sign aids, wheelchairs and walking aids. They have been made available in major tourist destinations in the district.
Hailing the achievement, Kerala Tourism Minister Shri Kadakampally Surendran said, âWe deserve this honour. It will enhance Keralaâs reputation as a global tourist destination.â
While Kerala tourism is working towards making all its tourist destinations travel friendly for disabled people, we only hope more states in India come forward and implement progressive and infrastructural and viable structures for the differently-abled. This is a great project initiated by Kerala and we hope by 2021 the entire state caters to disabled people through its tourism.