Tourism is a service-intensive industry. The success of the industry largely depends on the quality of customers’ services experience through services offered by service providers like accommodation by hotel industry, flight service for airlines, food served by restaurants, and travel and tour service by travel agents or tour operators. The companies which offer quality services excel, while others fail.
ACCESSIBLE TOURISM: So far, there is no universally agreed definition of accessible tourism. According to UNESCAP’s Takayama Declaration, Accessible Tourism, which is also known as ‘Access Tourism’, ‘Universal Tourism’ and ‘Inclusive Tourism’, among others, is tourism and travel that is accessible to all people, with disabilities or not, including those with mobility, hearing, sight, cognitive, or intellectual and psychosocial disabilities, older persons and those with temporary disabilities. Going by this definition, the population with disability was approximately 650 million when the declaration was issued i.e. 2009. This is a huge market. But many tourism markets are putting different forms of disabilities in the same basket and tailoring products and services for them accordingly. It won’t yield results as accessible tourism needs to cater for different needs of disability, covering the areas of hearing, vision, mobility, mental health and social needs, among others. ACCESSIBLE TOURISM IN NEPAL: Nepal is an exotic tourism destination in the country. But the country is not all about Himalayas only. Spread over 147,181 square kilometers, Nepal is rich in terms of culture, tradition and bio-diversity. Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is no different from other cosmopolitan cities in the world, having good restaurants and gigantic malls to shop for leading global brands, among other facilities. But the inner sanctum of this city still preserves timeless culture and tradition dating back to centuries. You will be surprised to see people pulling chariots as part of a colorful jatra from the window of a swanky restaurant with a steaming cuppa by your side. Such is diversity of this country. Nepal was closed to foreigners until 1950s. But the country had already come into notice of adventure enthusiasts as some of the tallest peaks in the world line up the countries northern frontiers. Mountaineers had started coming here even before the country formally opened its doors for foreigners. They used to take special permits from the then Rana rulers. The successful ascent of Mt Everest in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa was covered by leading media outlets of the world with great prominence, giving Nepal the much-needed publicity. Today, Nepal is getting visitors from all segments – adventure lovers, pilgrims, wildlife enthusiasts, holiday makers and MICE, among others. Of late, people with disabilities have started visiting Nepal. But the number is very few. This is because many travel trade companies do not know what accessible tourism is. Similarly, only few hotels and restaurants have infrastructure for people with disabil.