Easing travel for determined tourists

As more destinations become aware of the importance of accessible tourism, and airlines, tourism boards and hotels make provisions for the same, Basma Al Mayman, Regional Director, ME, UNWTO; Sandeep Walia COO, Marriott International, ME, and Iftikhar Hamdani, Area General Manager – Northern Emirates – Coral Beach Resort Sharjah, Bahi Ajman Palace Hotel, express their views on the issue.

Basmah Al Mayman, Regional Director  ME, UNWTO

What is the mandate by UNWTO to support travel and tourism industry to facilitate for travellers with determination?

UNWTO works to make tourism accessible to everybody. We advocate for both the public and private sectors to make accessibility a central part of any responsible tourism policy. UNWTO also works with tourism civil society stakeholders and destinations themselves to improve accessibility.

Does UNWTO encourage or plan out specialised training programme suited for industry staff?

UNWTO works with our Members to provide tailor-made training for the staff of NTAs and DMOs to improve accessibility strategies. Additionally, in September 2021, UNWTO organised a webinar on accessibility. At present, the focus is on civil society and government staff.

Are there any guidelines provided on travel, accommodation and other facilities?

UNWTO’s has released a number of norms focused on accessibility within tourism. These include guides to placing accessibility at the centre of tourism’s recovery and inclusive development in nature tourism destinations.


Sandeep Walia, Chief Operations Officer, Marriott International, Middle East

How does the Marriott hotel chain provide or facilitate for travellers with determination?

Marriott International is proud to welcome guests of determination and is committed to providing them with an outstanding experience, with full and equal access to all facilities and accommodation. Our hotel websites like this at Marriott Resort Palm Jumeirah provide information of what is available so that guests have the maximum information before they book.

Do you conduct special training programme for staff?

All our employees are trained to put our guests’ needs first, including making adjustments and changes where necessary to make sure all guests can enjoy every aspect of our hotels. Reservation staff are trained to protect accessible rooms.

Accommodation and other facilities wise, how do you provide for these clients?

We recognise that every guest has different needs, from accessible parking or travel arrangements, mobility features in showers, access ramps for pools or the spa, or alternative modes of communication.


Iftikhar Hamdani, Area General Ma, nager – Northern Emirates – Coral Beach Resort Sharjah | Bahi Ajman Palace Hotel

How does the hotel chain provide or facilitate for travellers with determination?

At Coral Beach Resort Sharjah we ensure that we facilitate travellers with determination.  One of the initiatives we had launched in 2022 to ensure that individuals with hearing loss or hard of hearing can fully enjoy our facilities and service is the implementation of AMSAAN technology. Gulf People of Determination Information Technologies launched their platform AMSAAN that allows hard of hearing guests to select any of the available sign languages on the tablet and immediately connect with an online interpreter. We are on our way to adopt the same technology.

Do you conduct special training programme for staff?

Primarily, GPDIT trained our Front Desk team on how it works and what is good about the AMSAAN technology is that it is user-friendly.

Any special services for them?

People with determination can expect a range of special services both at Bahi Ajman Palace Hotel and Coral Beach Resort Sharjah.  We continually enhancing our services in order to serve equally our guests with special needs.

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