For several years Lakshmee Lachhman-Persad worked in the travel and tourism industry. But with the boom of the Internet, she changed course and has been on a new path ever since.
The Morris Park resident, who immigrated here from Guyana, worked in travel and tourism for a company in Times Square. As many places became obsolete because of Expedia and Kayak, she realized it was sink or swim.
“If you didn’t educate yourself or go with the flow you, would have been kicked out of the industry,” she explained.
Lachhman-Persad enrolled in a new program at NYU for digital marketing and quickly adapted to the changing times. After that she left her full time job and became a freelance consultant for hotels and restaurants.
But the past year of the pandemic has been hard. Some of her clients are not reopening and she lost her grandmother to the coronavirus.
However, as COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the country, Lachhman-Persad had much more time on her hands like many people. Being that her sister Annie Lachhman has cerebral palsy and is disabled, they spent more time locally exploring the accessibility of parks and tourist sites throughout the Bronx.
“When I first started I didn’t know what was accessible,” she explained.
So, Lachhman-Persad took the bull by the horns and began visiting places such as the Botanical Garden and Bronx Zoo and figuring out the best ways for people with disablities to navigate them.
Lachhman-Persad explained that a person with a disability is always curious how they will be treated since there is no representation of people with disabilities in the media. For the most part there was no bad behavior towards her family, but some places just aren’t accessible.
While this doesn’t surprise her since buildings in NYC were built decades ago, her goal is to inform people about the issues through her platform, AccessibleTravelNYC.com and be a digtial tour guide for families. Over the past couple of years Lachhman-Persad noticed many places do not market their accessibility.
Recently, she published “Accessible Guide to The New York Botanical Garden” and guides for the Bronx Zoo and City Island. She also created a blog, which contains useful information Bronx residents with a disability can use.
“My role isn’t to get somebody to fix these things, that’s the business owners role,” she explained
Her work is also published on NYCGO’s website and she is especially proud that her family was the first featured on how to explore all of New York City from a wheelchair user’s perspective.
Since Lachhman-Persad began writing about accessibility, families locally, nationwide and worldwide have reached out to her. She has helped them plan trips and many are grateful for her research.
Her work has not gone unnoticed as she was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of NYC & Company, the NYC official Marketing, Tourism and Partnerships organization. She is also the New York City Tourism Steering Committee member for The Coalition for NYC Hospitality & Tourism Recovery.
“I feel fortunate and blessed to see how far I’ve come as an immigrant,” she said.
Morris Park Business Improvement District Executive Director Camelia Tepelus praised Lachhman-Persad for her work.
“Accessibility is an important quality of life requirement not only for the Bronx public spaces, but also for our private commercial areas,” Tepelus said. “Wheelchair users, families with strollers, our senior citizens or veterans with mobility challenges, they are all our families and our valued small businesses customers. Bronx commercial corridors welcome each and every one of them to cross our doorsteps.”