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Conference report: Second International Forum on Accessible Tourism (ICAT 2007)


At the same time as ENAT's conference in Valencia, colleagues in the Asia Pacific region were discussing similar topics on the other side of the world at the Second International Forum on Accessible Tourism (ICAT 2007).

Scott Rains reports:The Disabled Peoples' International- Asia Pacific (DPI-AP) and the Asia Pacific Disability Forum (APDF) and partners organised the Second International Forum on Accessible Tourism (ICAT 2007) from November 22-24, 2007. From global overviews of the industry, to perspectives gained from local tours and elephant rides, the sharing of resources, questions, and best-practices was continuous. Focusing on the ASEAN region, the conference attracted nearly 400 participants from Pakistan, Nepal, Mongolia, Vietnam, Turkey, Greece, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh, and Hong Kong to the UNESCAP facilities in Bangkok, Thailand. Participants from Germany, France, and United States also took part in a program of keynotes, discussions, and field trips.

The event was sponsored by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, Thai Ministry of Tourism & Sports, Thai Ministry of Social Development & Human Security, and UNESCAP.

Saowalak Thongkuay, DPI-AP's Regional Development Officer, opened the conference by saying that the so-called Disability Rights Movement had only begun in force 30 years ago. "From the beginning this movement has trusted its partners to join in pursuing the goal of the full social inclusion of people with disabilities ... The group gathered today represents especially well the strong partnership of those working for international development. It also marks a new historic partnership with the travel industry as a new force for inclusion of people with disabilities."

The conference aimed at the promotion of accessible tourism in the region as a way to enhance the implementation of various projects, including the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action and the Plan of Action for Sustainable Tourism Development in Asia and the Pacific. This focuses on access to built environments and transportation as well as training and employment.

The next session, ICAT 2009, was announced for Singapore with a tentative date of April 2009. ICAT 2009 will include a product expo and hands-on fieldwork at Singaporean tourist sites.

For more information, visit: Disabled Peoples' International- Asia Pacific website