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Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, is encouraging hoteliers to tap into the niche market of special needs tourism and provide services to members of the disabled community.

Speaking at a recent JIS ‘Think Tank’, the Minister said that some of the small hotels that are not competitive in the landscape could very well morph into specific areas for special needs tourism.

He pointed out that the Ministry of Tourism has been pushing special needs tourism in Jamaica and has been having talks with these hoteliers.

“Special needs tourism is one of the new and exciting areas that have potential in Jamaica,” Mr. Bartlett said.

The Minister noted that Jamaica’s tourism industry is segmented, and a whole range of tourism experience exists for persons with disabilities.

“We’re looking at how we can help fund and retrofit some of these smaller hotels in the context of the small and micro tourism enterprises (SMTEs),” Mr. Bartlett explained.

He pointed out that under the Disabilities Act 2014, hotels are required to provide facility access to persons with disabilities.

The Disabilities Act endorses and safeguards the rights of persons with disabilities to full and equal enjoyment of privileges, interests, benefits and treatment, on an equal basis as others.

Globally, there are one billion persons living with disabilities. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) states that accessibility for all to tourist facilities, products and services is a crucial part of any responsible and sustainable tourism policy.