THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Very soon, the differently-abled will enjoy unhindered access to more than 100 tourist destinations and 25 guest houses in the state, thanks to the Tourism Department’s Barrier Free project.Rs 9.7 crore will be allocated for the first phase of the project, which is ready for launch weeks after Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran told the Assembly that barrier-free spaces would be created in all tourist public areas in the state.
“Most of the differently-abled people who visit tourist spots experience some sort of isolation as certain areas are beyond their access. The Barrier Free project envisages structural corrections and addition of amenities to our tourism infrastructure. It’ll go a long way in ensuring inclusiveness of the differently-abled,” the tourism minister told Express.The minister added the Tourism Department’s aim was to convert all public spaces connected with tourism into disabled-friendly zones in the near future.
The Barrier Free project was first implemented in Kannur when present Tourism Director P Bala Kiran was Collector. Kannur earned the distinction of being first district in India to become disabled-friendly.
“We’ve made a good start in Kannur. With disabled travel fast growing in world, Kerala surely wants to be a leader in the barrier-free and accessible tourism space with its strong inclusive character,” said Bala Kiran. Last year, the state received 10.38 lakh global tourists and 1.31 crore domestic tourists. Surveys have indicated around three per cent of the tourists who are differently-abled and another 10 per cent who are elderly, encountered access barriers.