June 25, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Rep. Villar urges DOT to establish PWD, senior citizen-friendly tourism sites

HOUSE Deputy Speaker Camille Villar of Las Piñas City has urged the government to engage in accessible tourism practices to encourage more individuals to travel and explore the country’s beautiful sites, promote sustainable tourism, increase livelihood opportunities and contribute to economic growth. 

In particular, Villar’s House Bill No. 10349, or the proposed “PWD and Senior Citizen-Friendly Tourism Sites Act,” wants to make tourism sites more accessible to persons with disabilities and senior citizens “in recognition of their preferred and valued place in our society.” 

“Accessible tourism is the ongoing endeavor to ensure tourist destinations, products and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities, or age. This includes publicly and privately owned tourist locations, facilities and services,” she said. 

She added that “accessible tourism enables all people to participate in and enjoy tourism experiences” as she noted that “more people have access needs, whether or not related to a physical condition. For example, older and less mobile people have access needs, which can become a huge obstacle when traveling or touring.” 

She likewise stressed that “accessibility is an important aspect of realizing the rights of the world’s ageing population.” “As we grow older, our chance of experiencing a permanent or temporary disability is increased. A focus on accessibility can therefore ensure that we are able to participate fully in our societies well into our older years. Accessibility also benefits pregnant women and persons who are temporarily rendered immobile,” Villar said. 

The lawmaker from the city of Las Piñas City said the lack of travel and tourism facilities and services, including discriminatory policies and practices, have for years discouraged or deterred disabled persons and their spouses, children and caregivers from traveling and touring the country. 

In highlighting the importance of approving HB 10349, Villar cited the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2006 and ratified by the Philippines on April 15, 2008 which calls on State parties to take appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to the physical environment, information, transportation and other facilities and services open or provided to the public.

She also said that Article 30 on Participation as stated in the CRPD enjoins all State parties to ensure that persons with disability enjoy the benefits of tourism, cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport. 

Under HB 10349, tourism sites refer to cultural or natural heritage sites, museums, national parks, agro-industrial and eco-tourism sites, wildlife areas, and other tourism sites or spots. 

The Department of Tourism, in coordination with the Department of Public Works and Highways, National Council on Disability Affairs, and National Commission of Senior Citizens, are enjoined to ensure that tourism sites are equipped with physical infrastructure facilities that are PWD and senior citizen-friendly. 

Physical infrastructure includes components within and outside the tourism sites, including but is not limited to signages, accessible entrances, corridors, toilets with grab bars, switches and controls, ramps, elevators, accessible information desks, water taps, emergency exits, as well as outdoor facilities like roads and footpaths necessary to reach the tourism areas. 

The bill likewise proposes that PWD and senior citizen-friendly activities be included in all tourism policies, programs and plans of the DOT, which is also tasked in the measure to prepare a development plan involving the construction, installation, and maintenance of appropriate facilities and infrastructure which shall provide or enhance PWD and elderly-friendly tourism sites.