Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat of the Department of Tourism and Executive Director Emerito L. Rojas of the National Council on Disability Affairs (NCDA) lead to undertake  a Webinar today (September 24) to promote Barrier-Free Tourism for persons with disabilities,  despite the unprecedented blow  to tourism sector brought about the COVID-19 Pandemic , and affecting persons with disabilities among the vulnerable groups.  

Dubbed as “Barrier-Free Tourism Kaya Natin” aims to encourage DOT-accredited tourism related establishments as well as tourism destinations to become more user friendly for persons with disabilities.

Barrier-Free Tourism (BFT) is used to categorized the travel needs of persons with disabilities so they can move freely and independently as mentioned in Articles 9 and 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities or UNCRPD stating a provision on “ACCESSIBLITY” which enables persons with disabilities to live independently independently and participate fully in all aspects of life. Likewise, persons with disabilities can expect to participate fully and enjoy the same tourism activities at par with persons without disabilities.

In support of these provisions, a policy on “Tourism for All” advocacy campaign of DOT was initiated    to provide policy guidelines for stakeholders on accessible tourism as provided for in the government’s National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) to address the needs of tourists with disabilities.   

Likewise, the issuance of Memorandum Circular No. 2011-14 on February 11, 2011 entitled “Adopting the Guidelines on the Grant of Special Discounts to Persons with Disabilities Pursuant to the Provisions of Republic Act No. 9442.” An Act Amending Republic Act No. 7277, Otherwise Known as the “Magna Carta for Disabled Persons and Other Purposes.”  Failure to comply with the grant of such benefits being stated in the said Guidelines is a “ground for the Review of its Accreditation of DOT’s Rules and Regulations on Accreditation without prejudice to said establishment’s liability.”

Speakers from the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP), Intramuros Administration, Resources for the Blind, as well as  Special Education Teachers and Officials  from  the National Council on Disability Affairs will  be discussing  topics on  “Making Tourism Establishments Barrier-Free, ” Key Mandates on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”  “Intramuros as a Model  Friendly Tourist Destination for Persons with Disabilities. 

Participants will be from the DOT-accredited establishments composed of hotels and restaurant managers, transport operators, security personnel of seaports and airports, farm tourism operators, and local tourism officers.

According to NCDA Director Rojas, “this Webinar aims to ensure that tourists and guests with disabilities are properly accorded proper assistance in tourism establishments at the current pandemic situation towards the new system.”

In a related development, DOT and NCDA have been partners  in undertaking Seminars on How to Assist Persons with Disabilities for Tourism Frontliners around the country  since it started in 2011  and continued its conduct in Regions V, IV (CALABARZON), III and National Capital Region this year.