Ever since its debut, World Tourism Day has been celebrated on September 27th to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. This celebration seeks to highlight tourism’s potential to contribute to reaching the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing some of the most compelling challenges society may be facing today. The theme for this year is “universal access” and Cape Town seems to be making notable progress in its efforts to become a more accessible city. As a result, foreign as well as local visitors who are differently abled may also have the opportunity to experience a number of the city’s prominent tourist attractions.
Over the past few years, Cape Town has consistently been featured on top international travel destination lists. In order to smooth the access to its attractions to anyone who may be keen to visit, the city has acknowledged the importance of making its transport and facilities available to everyone, including those whose mobility is restricted. This project involved alterations to buildings – ramps, steps, lifts, toilet facilities, emergency exits, lighting, signage and alarm systems, as well as emphasis on the way information is made available (large print, braille, audio files etc.)
Some of Cape Town’s most iconic tourist attractions have made efforts to improve their accessibility. Muizenberg beachfront, for example, has implemented measures to help those in wheelchairs access the beach. Part of this process has involved training the lifeguards who work on the beach, to be aware of and assist anyone who may require help.
Conveniently located parking bays and lift access to the cable car makes it possible for those in wheelchairs to travel to the top of Table Mountain, the most iconic landmark of South Africa. At the top of the mountain, a significant part of the looped pathway may be accessible to everyone, while a map provides the necessary information. Located on the eastern foot of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is set on a steep gradient; therefore the authorities have made the visitor facilities – entrance gates, restaurants, shops and venues – accessible to all. Founded in 1913, the garden spanning an area of 1300 acres includes a unique conservatory with plants from different parts of the world. Wheelchair friendly areas include the conservatory, the area surrounding the main lawn, parts of the dell, the fragrance garden, the peninsula garden, the sculpture garden, and the concert area, while parking bays, as well as stop-and-drop zones, are provided at gates one and two. Kirstenbosch also offers a Braille Trail, which may offer an opportunity to all visitors to discover an indigenous forest unassisted.
Cape Point, a noteworthy tourist sight, home to numerous bays, beaches and rolling green hills and valleys, 60km outside of Cape Town, is also adequately accessible. The Flying Dutchman funicular is wheelchair friendly, as is the Two Oceans Restaurant. Several accessible lookout points may offer tourists the chance to enjoy the views. Cape Point recently launched a complimentary audio tour allowing visitors to explore the site at their own pace while listening to facts and stories. The app picks up on visitors’ GPS locations, meaning the sightseers may explore Cape Point at their own leisure.
The concept of “accessible tourism” aims to encourage the creation of environments catering for the needs of individuals everywhere, whether travelling or staying at home. Universal accessibility in tourism may allow all of the world’s citizens to experience the diversity of the planet and the beauty of the world, making it a meaningful message to send across.
How may improved accessibility influence tourism growth?