Pokhara, the city of lakes is gearing up to launch the first trekking trail for differently abled people. The first accessible trekking trail, specially designed for visitors with physical and mobility difficulties, is scheduled to be inaugurated on March 30 in Pokhara as Nepal is making treads to attract the accessible market.
The trekking trail for differently abled people is organized by US-based International Development Institute. The organizers are expecting 50 international and 75 domestic participants for the conference.
Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) Chief Executive Officer Deepak Raj Joshi said, “The conference is the first of its kind in Nepal and will seek to promote accessible holidays for the differently abled and people with physical limitations that remain vastly underserved due to inaccessible travel and tourism facilities and services. Accessible tourism potential remains largely untapped.”
Accessible tourism is an ongoing endeavor to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age. There are over a billion people with disabilities worldwide.
Joshi said, “The main objective of launching this trekking trail for differently abled people is to spread the message that Nepal is accessible to all people, regardless of physical limitations, disabilities or age.” Mayors of different key metropolitan cities and municipalities are also invited to the conference as they are could actually assure accessibility. According to Joshi, “It is only a beginning. We expect that the conference will make a big impact in Nepal’s tourism in the years to come.”
Director of Four Season Travel & Tours Operations, Pankaj Pradhananga who also happens to be one of the organizers, said that there is annually an estimated one billion tourists traveling around the world and around 10 percent of them are differently abled.
Pradhananga said, “It is a big market that has remained untouched particularly by countries like Nepal. Besides, the elderly population is expected to grow faster and this provides an opportunity for many.”
According to a study, the European Union has a population of almost 372 million, out of which, 60.3 million people are aged 65 or older. That’s why, many hotels and travel companies are beginning to prepare special products for a new target audience—named ‘senior tourism’, evaluating the prospect of the increasing number of older people.
In a developing country like Nepal, there surely are many challenges including the need for proper infrastructure to jump into this market field. It is difficult to find a place in Nepal for differently abled people as the tourism here has not really realized the potential. There are a large number of hotels in Nepal, but unfortunately only a few have wheelchair ramps. Our country lacks basic needs such as toilets for the physically disabled people.
Generally, tourists with disabilities rely on word-of-mouth publicity, and they tend to stay longer than the average length of stay. If persons with disabilities are told that the tourist destination is friendly to them, they have the tendency and eagerness to visit that place.
According to the world’s largest travel guide publisher, Lonely Planet, 50 percent of differently abled people would travel more if suitable facilities were available to them wherever they traveled.
The 1.3km trekking trail for differently abled people happening in Pokhara is a great initiative to spread out the message that Nepal is accessible to all.
News Source: The Kathmandu Post
Featured Image: Pankaj Pradhananga