Wheelchair games prompt Khao Yai park upgrade

Wheelchair games prompt Khao Yai park upgrade

The government hopes to turn Khao Yai National Park in Nakhon Ratchasima into a tourist attraction more suitable for receiving wheelchair users, the elderly and young children ahead of it playing host to the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (Iwas) World Games 2020.

Chet Sao Noi Waterfall National Park in Muak Lek district of neighbouring Saraburi province will also undergo a similar design revamp, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa yesterday.

Toilets and trails leading to scenic viewpoints will be tweaked to make them accessible to wheelchair users, the elderly and young children, said the minister.

In 2013, the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department begun adjusting its 95 national parks by adding disabled toilets and installing ramps in buildings, according to Thanya Netithammakun, director-general of the department.

"The country's national parks weren't initially designed for wheelchair users and most of these parks have sharp slopes, which have made it particularly difficult to incorporate facilities for wheelchair users into their buildings and landscape," he said.

The idea of adopting universal designs to make them more suitable for those with any type of physical challenges came last year.

"Aside from wheelchair users, the department is also paying heed to the needs of the elderly, very young children and pregnant women while redesigning its parks," he said.

Currently, the number of wheelchair users and old people visiting these areas is estimated at 6,000 per year, said Songtham Suksawang, director of the National Park Office.

The number will only rise further given Thailand's rapidly ageing population, he added.

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