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Inclusive Tourism

Botswana is undoubtedly one of the top safari destinations in the world and appears on most people’s bucket lists, should they have a craving for wildlife in natural habitats. As a country, Botswana is globally recognised for its conservation efforts, which has resulted in large numbers of animals successfully thriving in the knowledge that they are protected in this country.

As a result of this, tourism has grown into one of the top revenue earners for the country with many professional companies to choose from. One such company, based in Maun, is Endeavour Safaris.

Endeavour promotes what is termed as ‘inclusive tourism’, or ‘universally accessible tourism’. In broad terms, Endeavour can cater to persons with varying physical disabilities, including mobility impairments such as tetraplegia and paraplegia, and various other physical impairments, such as those who have had a stroke or walking difficulties. People with visual impairments are also well catered for by Endeavour. Physical disabilities can further be broken down into ‘seen’ and ‘unseen’ disabilities, all of which result in a little more attention to the planning details of such safaris.

inclusive tourism

Endeavour was founded in 2001, with the aim of making the wilds of Botswana accessible to persons using wheelchairs. Specially designed off-road vehicles were constructed, including hydraulic lifts to accommodate guests using wheelchairs. The vehicles were further designed to allow a person to remain in their wheelchair in the vehicle or the option of transferring to one of the regular seats. Special tie downs are used to safely secure the wheelchairs in place.

Accommodation

Next was accommodation so an original tented design was used, which covered the basics of toilet/showering facilities and sleeping. Due to the tents being mobile, they can be set up and moved anywhere. This is how Endeavour began convincing persons with disabilities, their friends and families to travel to Botswana and have the same access to the amazing wildlife and regions as any other tourist to Botswana.

In the last ten years disability-related travel has improved all around the world, from airlines to improving accommodation and a better understanding about the needs of travellers with disabilities.

Botswana is at the forefront of inclusive tourism thanks to the efforts of companies like Endeavour Safaris. In November 2015 Endeavour won a world responsible tourism award for best accommodation for disability access.

The company’s owners have quoted two things, the first is aimed at persons with disabilities: “It is only through you travelling and pioneering new destinations that society in general will begin to understand and cater to your needs. Do not sit at home and complain – your travelling will ensure that future travellers with disabilities will be treated with the respect and dignity that we all deserve.”

The second quote is aimed at persons without disabilities: “The difference between you right now and a person with a disability could be one slip in the shower. The possibilities are endless, so if you have never been exposed to any person with a disability before, do not be afraid of them, they are you and they seek the same things that you do.”

Endeavour is working towards an integrated society whereby safari lovers will be professionally hosted together whether or not you have a disability, and where Batswana with disabilities can have employment opportunities through tourism.