Conference on Accessible Transportation & Tourism in New Delhi, India A Conference on Accessible Transportation & Tourism was organised and hosted by Svayam – an initiative of SJ Charitable Trust, in partnership with Ministry of Transport, Govt. of NCT of Delhi and Union Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India during 24-25th March 2009 at India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road, New Delhi, India. First Day of the Conference In this two day conference, first day focussed on Inclusive & Accessible Transport which was inaugurated by Mr. Arvinder Singh Lovely, Hon’ble Minister for Transport, Government of Delhi and Ms. Sminu Jindal, Founder, Svayam & Managing Director-Jindal SAW Ltd. with key speakers of the Conference, Mr. Tom Rickert, E.D., Access Exchange International, Prof. Lalita Sen, Texas Southern University and Mr. Jamie Osborne, Transit Planner, San Francisco Municipal Authority. After the inauguration by lighting the lamp, Ms. Abha Negi, Director-Svayam, gave an overview of the Conference which was followed by a Welcome Note by Ms. Sminu Jindal, Founder Svayam. Mr. Tom Rickert presented an Overview of Access Issues in urban transport- the perspective & challenges in developing world which was followed by the Opening remarks of the Hon’ble Minister for Transport, Mr. Lovely. In his speech, Mr. Lovely emphasised the need of accessible transportation to include all segments of society and that his ministry was taking concrete steps to ensure that by adding 600 more low floor buses to the fleet and thrashing out access issues that remains in consultation with expert organisations like Svayam & others. Mr. Tom Rickert made a presentation on International Trends in Accessible Transport & Public Spaces in which while presenting what various countries around the globe have done to address accessibility in the transport sector, he stressed the need to find local & country specific solutions to access needs. Mr. Jamie Osborne discussed the Road Map ahead to ensure seamless accessibility in transportation for this was also the basis of Inclusive Tourism. In the post lunch sessions, Prof. Geetam Tiwari, from TRIPP, IIT Delhi discussed Key Design Issues in Sustainable & Accessible Urban Transport Infrastructure wherein the participants were fairly convinced on the importance of BRT System in Urban Transport Infrastructure to reduce hardships to all and make the public transport sustainable. Mr. Simon Bishop, a UK based consultant represented DIMTS and gave overview of DIMTS and their Strategies to integrate multimodal transport systems to provide seamless & accessible travel in Delhi The first day was concluded with a Panel Discussion on Strategies for Inclusive Transportation – the way forward participated by the Ms. Geetam Tiwari, Ms. Lalita Sen, Mr. Tom Rickert, Mr. Jamie Osborne, Mr. Gaurav Raheja & Mr. Sanjeev Sachdeva. Second Day of the Conference The Second Day of the Conference dwelt on Accessible Tourism and was inaugurated by the Secretary Tourism. “In order to make all tourism products accessible to all kinds of tourists, especially People with Disabilities (PwDs), Ministry of Tourism (MoT) will strongly enforce accessibility provisions in all the centrally-approved tourism projects” said Sujit Banerjee, Secretary – Tourism, Government of India at the inauguration of a two-day conference on Inclusive Tourism, ‘Accessible Transportation and Tourism,’ held in the capital. “We have decided not to give central financial assistance to projects which do not have facilities for differently- abled people. Incredible India cannot be called incredible if our destinations are not accessible to all kinds of people,” he informed. The Secretary informed that MoT had started recognising efforts of the private sector in this regard by instituting awards at the National Tourism Awards. He also informed that the core committee comprising people from Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Transport, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Ministry of Social Welfare, etc. would be asked to make a report on tourism sites which need to be taken up for improvement of accessibility on a priority basis. In her introductory address, Ms. Sminu Jindal, Founder & Chairperson, Svayam commented that there was endless possibility for India to grow in the tourism sector if mobility issues of PwDs was looked into and addressed. Key speaker Prof. Lalita Sen talked about Key challenges in & Strategies for Accessible Tourism. Ms. Thilakam Rajendran, Managing Director- ARUNIM (Association for Rehabilitation under National Trust Initiative of Marketing) gave a brief overview of this new initiative of the National Trust for the Welfare of persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities. Jamie Osborne, a Transit Planner from San Francisco Municipal Agency discussed the Obstacles as seen by a tourist. Ms. Lalita Sen discussed the importance of Travel Chains & Pedestrian infrastructure and how seamless accessibility can promote inclusive tourism. Mr. Tom Rickert talked about the growing need of accessible Para-transit for tourism and how with little changes in para transit infrastructure, the vehicles could be made more accessible to people with reduced mobility. Ms. Abha Negi showcased the initiatives of Svayam with Archaeological Survey of India in making Heritage Sites accessible to all. Mr. Rajiv Kohli dwelt upon the Marketing & Business Opportunities in Accessible Tourism and stressed the point that it definitely made good business sense to provide accessibility to people with reduced mobility who despite good disposable income at their hands gets discouraged by unmatched infrastructure to their needs. Mr. Gaur Kanjilal, an ex DDG from Min. of Tourism, India and currently the Executive Director of IATO discussed his experiences on the Opportunities and challenges in Accessible Tourism. Mr. Amitoj Singh, Asst. Prof from IIT Delhi, India shared Research Perspectives in Accessible Tourism in the absence of Prof. Lalit Das, Head – Transport Design who could not make it due to urgent engagement. Mr. Gaurav Rajeha, Lecturer from IIT Roorkee, India made a presentation on Universal Design in Accessible Tourism Infrastructure-Research Perspective and showed how with Universal Design could form the very basis of designing and retrofitting the tourism infrastructure. He insisted on the sensual experience of the tourism sites that a tourist carries and how by good design, the tourist could be attracted to visit a particular site. Ms. Lalita Sen dwelt on the vast Tourist Market which needs accessible infrastructure and how by ignoring this section of tourist, the tourism industry is loosing out on much needed revenue in these times of recession. Mr. Jamie Osborne shared as to How San Francisco provides Accessible Transit to people with reduced mobility. Mr. Tom Rickert briefly also discussed the Access Training Tool Kit that is being prepared for the World Bank The Conference concluded with a Panel Discussion. The participants on both days included senior officials & bureaucrats from transportation and tourism sector, state tourism development corporations, Urban Development, Students from Architectural & Design, people with disabilities, NGOs, Representatives of International NGOs, media representatives from print as well as visual etc.