By Utpal Borpujari
In a significant move forward towards making things comfortable for differently-abled tourists, the Centre has now made it mandatory that all existing and new hotels in the country will have to comply with accessibility requirements for them.
All hotels will have to comply with the directive by September one next year, according to the norms for approval of hotel projects and guidelines for classification of hotels, which have been reviewed after a gap of six years.
Thus, every hotel will now have to comply with accessibility requirements, special rooms with bathrooms, and facilities in the public area for differently-abled persons if it wants to be approved by the Ministry of Tourism.
“As against the popular perception, the only requirement for differently-abled tourists is not ramp access to structures. They also need special bathrooms and facilities in public areas, such as a minimum one metre wide lobby, and rooms earmarked for them in the ground floor,” Tourism Secretary Sujit Banerjee said.
The new guidelines have also taken into account the issues of security and safety of tourists, reflecting the realities of the day. In fact, one of the major reasons behind the review of the norms was the the changing requirements of international and domestic travellers and emerging safety and security consciousness in view of the recent incidents in the country, according to Tourism Ministry officials.
Depending on the star category, hotels are now required to have metal detectors, CCTVs, X-Ray machines, under-belly scanners to screen vehicles, verification of staff and suppliers, among other requirements.
Banerjee said that the new guidelines also had taken into account the issue of rampant construction in hill stations. “No construction will be allowed if they do not take into account local ethos, ecology and architecture in environmentally-fragile areas,” he said.
Also, in Grade A cities of Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad/ Secunderabad and Delhi/NRC, hotels would be required to offer more types of cuisine and number of food & beverage outlets compared to other cities, which will be considered Grade B cities.