Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Special needs tourism focus of Middle East gathering

They're talking about the traveler with disabilities at the Third International Tourism Development Forum for People with Special Needs in the Middle East this week. Lots of familiar themes are being sounded like:
-- People with disabilities are an important and growing segment.
-- Businesses that ignore this are passing on a large potential customer base.
-- Travelers with disabilities often spend more than the average traveler.
This report on the forum also lists several initiatives going on in the Middle East to attract travelers with disabilities:
-- Twenty check-in counters suited to travelers with disabilities are being installed at Dubai International Airport. Adding car parking for disabled travelers and training for staff is also underway there.
-- "The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing in Dubai has made it mandatory for five-star hotels, more than 42 of the total 306 hotels operating in the Emirate, to customize about 2 percent of their rooms for people with special needs.
-- "Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, has recently provided the Dubai Airport with 10 mini-vans to be used as metered taxis for tourists with special needs and their family members."
Summing up the need for the fourm, HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of Dubai Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) and chairman and chief executive of Emirates Airlines and Group said: “From the humanitarian viewpoint, the existence of more than 30 million individuals with special needs in the Middle East necessitates for the concerned parties, namely airports, airlines, hotels, transport and tourist agencies and others, to develop special services. It calls for the setting up of new facilities that cater to special needs people to enable them to feel part of the society."
Every region should have one of these forums!


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