Lonely Planet Writer

World Tourism Day kicks off in Bangkok on theme of accessible travel

‘Tourism for All’ and the need for universal accessibilty is the theme of this year’s United Nations World Tourism Day, taking place in Bangkok, Thailand. Celebrations, talks and panel sessions will be held throughout the day on 27 September.

Bangkok skyline.
World Tourism Day gets underway in Bangkok. Image by GettyRF

“Everyone has the right to access leisure and tourism services on an equal basis,” said UN Secretary-General Ban KI-Moon in his official message ahead of the event. “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.”

Speakers, including Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Manager, Martin Heng, will be sharing ideas on the experience of travel for people with mobility issues, with the aim of encouraging businesses and government organisations to invest more in their infrastructure. Topics for discussion will include the challenges of raising awareness among tourism professionals; the products and services that add value to the experience of both visitors and locals in a destination; and the opportunities to be had from investing in accessibility. A ‘Tourism in the Media’ workshop was held the day before.

“All of the world’s citizens have the right to experience the incredible diversity this planet has to offer. Therefore, it is highly important that all countries and destinations, as well as the industry, promote accessibility for all in the physical environment, in transport systems, in public facilities and services and in information and communications channels”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

The United Nations’ World Tourism Day was established in 1980 and is an annual event aiming to foster awareness in the economic, social and cultural benefits of tourism.

Tourism is a major industry in Thailand with Bangkok recently overtaking London as the world’s top tourist destination.