The new ambulift in operation at the airport.

easier access

New airport ambulift to help disabled travellers

There is a new piece of equipment in operation at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA), which will make the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers
with reduced mobility much easier.

Caribbean Aircraft Handling (CAH) yesterday rolled out a new ambulift, which Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds said is a step towards helping to make Barbados fully accessible to the world.

His comments came as he disclosed that the GAIA will soon be putting in place prioritised seating for persons with disabilities to ensure that access to the gate and boarding of the aircraft can be done in a “more comfortable and convenient fashion”.

“As sought after as Barbados is as a destination, it is critically important that we do all that we can in our power to remember those people who are not able, for a variety of reasons, to be as easily capable of accessing all of the things that Barbados has to offer as the average person is. I indicated as much to the Chairman and Mrs. Weekes at my very first meeting with the Board of Directors, and I am pleased to be able to say that in only a few months… they have been able to rise to the challenge in a very meaningful way,” he said.

The minister went on to say that the new piece of equipment – which is estimated to cost US$200 000 inclusive of shipping and handling – will be of great help
to persons who have reduced mobility as a result of physical incapacity which may be sensory or locomotory, advancing age or illness. His comments came as he noted that an increasing number of people in each of those categories are travelling and need to be accommodated.

“…Though having reduced mobility they have the capacity to spend a lot of money, why then would Barbados want to lock itself out of a market that is so potentially lucrative and a market in which there are so many players who have not made it top of the mind priority to offer the best possible welcoming and hospitality experience for persons with reduced mobility?” Minister Symmonds added.

With that in mind, the tourism minister maintained that it is imperative the fully accessible goal also be achieved at the seaport and in hotels across the island. In
that vein, he said he has communicated such to the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association and said he looks forward to the day when every new tourism investment in this country will make provision throughout their property for persons with reduced mobility.

“We must go there. I think first of all it is a moral requirement and a moral imperative, but beyond that, it makes good sense if we are offering hospitality as our major industry,” he contended.

In addition to being able to accommodate wheelchairs, Minister Symmonds said that anyone who is accompanying the passenger with reduced mobility can join them on the ambulift. (JRT)

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