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Unlocking Cape Town’s beauty. A dive into Accessible Tourism
By Tarryn Tomlinson

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Cape Town, a city renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural tapestry, and vibrant history, is increasingly becoming a beacon of accessible tourism. With a commitment to inclusivity, the city is striving to ensure that all visitors, regardless of their physical abilities, can partake in and enjoy the wonders it has to offer. This article explores the strides that Cape Town tourism and some businesses have taken to make tourism accessible to everyone.

Making infrastructure inclusive

One of the cornerstones of accessible tourism in Cape Town is the ongoing effort to make public infrastructure more inclusive. The city has invested in ensuring that the main tourist attractions are universally accessible. You will find wheelchair-friendly parking, paths, accessible bathrooms and signage at major tourist attractions such as Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront, and the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. These modifications not only enable individuals with mobility challenges to navigate these sites but also enhance the overall experience for all visitors.

Accessible accommodations

Though finding a variety of accessible accommodation in terms of price point and location can be a challenge, the city boasts a number of accessible hotels in the three, four and five star categories. Guest houses and vacation rentals equipped with accessible features such as ramps, elevators with wider doorways and roll-in showers can prove to be harder to find. This is especially true, when you are looking to adventure further away from the city center.

It’s always best practice to ask the property agent to send pictures of the accessible property features, as many people working at establishments are not educated enough about access to know whether a property is truly accessible.

Inclusive experiences

The tourism industry recognizes that accessible tourism is not just about physical infrastructure but also about providing inclusive experiences. One of the exhilarating and inclusive experiences available for travellers with mobility challenges is adaptive paragliding.

Paragliding can be difficult for someone who does not walk, but adaptive paragliding allows the person to do a tandem jump from Signal Hill, comfortably seated in a specially designed wheelchair.

This year, 2023 Cape Town Tourism launched the first tour that makes street art accessible to blind and visually impaired people. The I’m Possible tour is also led by Africa’s first blind tour guide, Winston Fani.

My company Able2Travel Accessible Travel Concierge also offers access to accessible tours that cater to individuals with different abilities. These tours may include sign language interpreters, audio guides, and tactile exhibits to ensure that everyone can engage fully with the cultural and historical richness of the city.

Accessible transportation

Efficient transportation is crucial for any tourist destination, and Cape Town is no exception. Unfortunately there is a lack of accessible transportation, despite the city taking significant steps to make its public transportation system more accessible, with MyCiti buses and the official Red City Sightseeing buses equipped with ramps and designated spaces for wheelchair users.

Additionally, accessible private taxi services are available, providing a convenient and comfortable mode of transportation for individuals with mobility challenges.

Uber services run well in the city and Uber has a function called Uber assist. When choosing Uber assist you will be sent a driver who has been trained to assist persons with disabilities.

Inclusive events and festivals

Cape Town’s vibrant events and festivals have also embraced the principles of accessible tourism. Major events, such as the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and the Cape Town Carnival, now incorporate accessibility features, including designated viewing areas, sign language interpreters, and accessible restroom facilities. These measures ensure that individuals with disabilities can participate in and enjoy the city’s lively cultural scene.

Community engagement and awareness

Creating a truly accessible destination requires more than physical modifications; it demands a shift in mindset and cultural awareness. Cape Town Tourism has been actively engaging with local communities to raise awareness about the needs of individuals with disabilities and promote a culture of inclusivity. The Limitless sensitization campaign aims to foster understanding and empathy among residents and businesses alike.

Conclusion

Cape Town’s journey towards accessible tourism is a testament to the city’s commitment to inclusivity and equal opportunities for all. By continually enhancing infrastructure, accommodations, transportation and cultural events, Cape Town is not only making its attractions physically accessible but also fostering a welcoming environment for everyone. As the city evolves, it sets a positive example for other destinations around the world, proving that the beauty of travel should be accessible to all, regardless of physical abilities.

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