Thailand urged to prioritise accessible tourism for disabled and elderly

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Tourism operators in Thailand are calling for the development of a long-term action plan to make the country more accessible for elderly and disabled travellers. Jittasak Putjorn, an assistant professor at Silpakorn University researching the development of Thailand as a “Tourism For All” destination, said that the government and private operators should work together to close the gap in development and create a more inclusive environment.

Putjorn said…

“If Thailand wants to make tourism a crucial economic driver and expand its presence on the global stage, we must not leave behind disabled people or seniors.”

According to Putjorn, there is currently no database of domestic or foreign disabled tourists, but it is believed that 2.1 million disabled people live in Thailand. He also highlighted that a study showed disabled European tourists spent 29,468 baht per trip, indicating that disabled tourists are willing to travel and spend money.

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Despite the importance of accessible infrastructure, multiple factors hinder facility improvements, including limited government budgets, restrictive outsourcing conditions, and insufficient resources for professional designers.

Furthermore, a central platform connecting buyers and tourists in accessible tourism is lacking. Putjorn recommends that the tourism minister collaborates with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Social Development and Human Security Ministry to facilitate such connections. Moreover, disabled users should have the chance to evaluate policies before promoting them at international trade events.

Sawang Srisom, co-founder of Transportation For All, expressed his expectations for the government to create better connectivity between major transport hubs and nearby attractions, benefiting both disabled tourists and local disabled residents.

Recently, a meeting was held between Silpakorn University’s research committee and tourism stakeholders from both the private and public sectors to discuss each organisation’s responsibility in serving tourists and potential future collaboration. The goal is to use the feedback from the meeting to form a tourism campaign and policies, which will be proposed to the new chief of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

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