With a common goal, the pair addressed issues and developments within accessible tourism and discussed plans to strengthen tourism propositions, both within the United Arab Emirates and worldwide.
“Accessibility is a central element of any responsible and sustainable tourism policy”, said Taleb Rifai. “It is both a human rights imperative and an exceptional business opportunity. Above all, we must come to appreciate that accessible tourism does not only benefit person with disabilities or special needs, it benefits us all.”
In addition to UNWTO’s dedication to its “Tourism for All” theme, which aims to make tourism inclusive and barrier-free worldwide, Haitham Mattar pledged to improve international, accessible tourism standards in Ras Al Khaimah, the UAE’s northernmost emirate, to address the needs of such segments as disabled travellers, elderly travellers with reduced mobility and families with small children. The potential of wellness tourism was also discussed as the percentage of the mature travelling population continues to grow.
Haitham Mattar said: “It was an honour to meet with Taleb Rifai at the World Travel Market in London this year. Our discussions and alignment are another positive step on our shared path to making tourism products universally accessible, both in our own emirate and across the globe. We are committed to turning the theme of ‘Tourism for All’ into a reality.”
Earlier this year, RAK TDA hosted the annual UAE World Tourism Day conference, which emphasised the important contribution of tourism to Ras Al Khaimah and the UAE. RAK TDA has also delivered on its promise to promote accessible tourism by signing the Accessible Tourism Code of Good Conduct, developed by the European Network of Accessible Tourism (ENAT), to establish accessible tourism products and practices in the emirate.
Picture: (L-R) Haitham Mattar, CEO of RAK TDA, and Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary General