KOCHI: The differently-abled and the elderly will be able to visit more tourist destinations in the district soon without facing any problem in accessibility. For the Tourism Department has decided to convert four more destinations here into ‘barrier-free’ spots for increasing their accessibility. The first phase of the project is nearing completion and the second phase construction is likely to be over before this financial year.Ernakulam District Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) secretary S Vijayakumar said the project was one of the main priorities of the department.
“We are looking to make four more tourism destinations in the district barrier-free in the second phase of project before the end of this financial year. The destinations are Kuzhupilly beach, Bhoothathankettu, Nedumpara chira near Koovappady and Indiranchira near Kolenchery. We have submitted a proposal in this regard. It is expected to get final clearance soon. A sum of `95 lakh has been estimated as the construction cost,” he said.
In the first phase of the barrier-free project, Fort Kochi, Ernakulam Boat Jetty and Cherai and Munambam beaches were selected and the construction was carried out using `44 lakh granted by the state government. The Kerala State Industrial Enterprises (KSIE) was roped in for the construction work.
“Ramps were constructed to allow wheelchair-bound persons access to the tourist destinations. Similarly, differently-abled-friendly toilets are also being constructed. Nearly, 95 per cent of the construction work under the first phase is over,” Vijayakumar said.
The tourist spots will also sport tack tiles and have Braille signboards, audio guides, walking sticks and wheelchairs available.The government had launched the barrier-free project last year, setting aside `9 crore for all the districts.In the first phase this year, 100 locations were selected for the barrier-free makeover this year.
The project was first implemented in Kannur when P Bala Kiran, the present Tourism Director, was District Collector there.The data on tourist arrivals in the state revealed around three per cent of tourists - both domestic and foreign - were differently-abled, while around 10 per cent were senior citizens. At present, a majority of tourist destinations are inaccessible to them.The Tourism Department had observed the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which fell on December 3.