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WTTC’s 5th Global Travel & Tourism Summit in India

Apr 20, 2005
SATH and SATH Publications participation at WTTC’s 5th Global Travel & Tourism Summit in India

It was the first time for SATH and SATH Publications was able to be a part of this summit. Even though I had expected it to be a very educative and productive experience, I was not at all prepared for the immensity and intensity of the whole program.

The organizers deserve applause in the selection of the venues both for the programs as well as the social functions. All these facilities had accessibility to a certain extent if any of the delegates had a disability. India being a very hospitable place, with their hotel staff ready to help with any need of yours, the lack of the physical facilities becomes less important.

The press conference held at Ashok Hotel, was a huge success since the venue and lay out were conducive to everybody being a full participant.

The sessions were well attended and the Q & A sessions were spirited, focused and informative.

The session “Global Vibrations Debate – Innovator or Trade” where Peter Greenberg was one of the speakers was of great interest to us. He touched upon the subject of the mature traveler who constitutes a major portion of the Luxury Travel clientele. Peter Greenberg has always been a strong supporter of SATH and believes in our mission that travel should be available to each and everyone irrespective of their age and ability.

Bill Marriott, in answer to my question as to how much importance his company gives to the disability travel segment, assured the audience that training to meet the needs of the clients with disabilities and the mature was an integral part of the training that any new employee receives when they join Marriott.

China is investing a considerable amount of funds in transportation and other travel facilities especially since they are hosting the next Olympics. The figure of 820 million people as domestic travelers within China was a staggering number. This figure was provided by Wang Ping, who is the President of The Chamber of Tourism, All-China Federation of Industry Commerce. When you consider that the number of people above 65 will make up as much as 14 per cent of the population by 2007, China should be making some serious changes in their infra structure.

Ashok Hotel, which was used for all the seminars, has a few adapted rooms. They do not have roll-in showers and needs to get shower benches. There are no special facilities for the clients who are deaf or blind.

InterContinental The Grand, the venue of the welcome cocktails and dinner had an accessible entrance. There were no facilities for the blind or deaf.

One of the dinners, held Purana Quila, was an open air function. Since there were cemented walkways anyone using a wheelchair or any other mobility devices would not have found it inaccessible; however the cultural program was held on a raised platform which would make it difficult for people with disabilities to get to.

The Farewell Dinner at Taj Palace posed no problems for the people with mobility impairments. Once again the blind and the deaf were left out. This hotel has one of the best facilities offered for people using wheelchairs. They have rooms with roll-in showers and toilets with hand rails.

India needs to look into the needs of people with disabilities without losing any more precious time. A population of about 20 million who have some kind of disability together with the growing population of people above 60 (Elderly population over 60 years of age currently estimated at 70 million, projected to reach 177 million by 2025) makes accessibility a top priority.