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Kerala government successfully completes 1st phase of Barrier Free Tourism Project

The government of Kerala had initiated the Barrier Free Tourism Project that aims to make all prominent tourist locations in the state accessible and disabled friendly. On 4 March, the state government celebrated completion of its first phase, making 70 tourism places accessible.

The event was inaugurated by Kadakampally Surendran, Kerala Minister for Co- Operation, Tourism and Devaswom. People from the disabled community, activists and representatives from NGOs took part in the event that was held at the state capital in Thiruvananthapuram.

The government of Kerala introduced 'Barrier Free Project' last year. They aim to make over 200 tourist destinations disabled friendly and accessible by the year 2021. Beaches, museums and parks are included in the list. Popular beaches like Munakkal Azhikode and Alleppy have already been made accessible by introducing wheelchair ramps and disabled friendly washrooms to name a few of the new facilities.

Rupesh Kumar, Co-ordinator, Responsible Tourism Mission says work is going on making other tourist attractions accessible.

We are still working on making almost all the tourism places in Kerala accessible and disabled friendly. We are also ensuring that we do not leave any stone unturned to introduce all features for the comfort of disabled people. We are taking opinions and studying what disabled people need because they know what their requirements are. Accessible tourism packages will also be introduced.- Rupesh Kumar, Co-ordinator, Responsible Tourism Mission

Reportedly, Kerala will be the first state in India to successfully implement the Barrier Free Tourism Project, an initiative that has been put forward by World Tourism Organization. The efforts taken by the government was lauded by people with disabilities who took part in the event.

Rajesh S, Vice-President, All Kerala Wheelchair Rights Federation (AKWRF), an NGO that works for the empowerment of wheelchair users in the state, says the initiative reaches out to people of all disability types, not just wheelchair users.

"As far as we know, wheelchair ramps are introduced along with Braille signage, audio clippings and even guides who will reach out to disabled tourists", said Rajesh. "Four to five wheelchairs will be kept at all popular destinations so that those who do not come with their wheelchair can use it. Washrooms will also be made disabled friendly. Now, more people with disabilities can enjoy tourist locations:.

Kerala is known for its lush greens and serene landscape. Popularly called 'God's Own Country', introduction of accessible tourism is definitely going to boost the economy of the state.

ALSO READ: Azhikode Munakkal beach in Kerala now accessible for people with all types of disabilities

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