Sunday, November 21, 2010

In Korea, program provides accessible tourism for group of wheelchair users

From Arirang News in Korea:

Getting away on the holiday break is a given for most people.

But for the physically challenged who are confined to their wheelchair, getting out can be merely wishful thinking.

But that is changing.

A group of 20 people are enjoying the attractions of Seoul on a three-day trip.

This was made possible thanks to the support by a company program to boost people's livelihood.

For many, their visit to the Han River Park (pictured) was a first.

Usually, it is a very demanding task for both the severely handicapped and their helpers in getting on and off the bus and this is what often makes them shun going out altogether.

Even when they do venture out, they refrain from drinking water to reduce the number of trips to the restroom.

But this custom-made bus makes a world of difference.

If you use an electric wheelchair, you can get on the bus on your own by using a special lift mounted on the bus.

While this bus is the only one in the country, the Culture, Sports and Tourism Ministry plans to add three units each year.

In addition, there will be extra budget support.

The ministry will expand the welfare travel budget for the disabled, the elderly and the low income bracket by three times to about five million dollars next year.

The initiatives are being taken under the belief that tourism enriches people's lives and their sense of well being.