“There are a lot of persons with some impairment that do not travel. They do not lack time or wishes to travel, they fear being unable to find barrier-free destinations”, said the Balearic MEP Rosa Estaràs while explaining the current situation of accessible tourism. Estaràs exposed this shared vision as organizer of the forum “Tourism for everyone: an opportunity to win”, held on Thursday 9th February. Speakers from all over Europe met in this forum.

Currently “there are no common models of accessibility in the EU in tourist services. Thus, the EU can play a major role in the drawing up of tourist sector standards and minimal accessibility indicators to be met by hotels and other services in the European Community”, the MEP said. Throughout the different reports and debates, the speakers presented the Balearic Islands, Spain and Europe as an international point of reference in the field of accessible tourist destinations.

The vice-president of the Europen Commision and Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, Antonio Tajani,

was commissioned for the opening of the event. Also present at this event was the Italian MEP and member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism, Carlos Fidanza, and the President of the Disabilty Intergroup for Ádám Kósa. The Balearic Islands were widely represented by the Tourism Director of the Balearic government, Luisa Hernández, the president of the Chamber of Commerce in Mallorca, Juan Gual, the managing director of Diamond Resorts International, Helen Smith, and the founder of Handisport Mallorca, Rafael Winckelmann. Estaràs thanked Tajini for the interest he showed, pointing out the need to promote actions in the European Union to improve the accessibility of tourist destinations.

Discapacidad

According to Estaràs, possible policy measures that could be applied in the member countries include the possibility of limiting European funding to the more accessible projects presented by member countries. By the same token, it would be necessary to introduce codes of good practice for member countries that contribute to the professionalization of the tourist sector. The main concerns include accessibility as a business strategy, the improvement of information about accessible tourism for disabled persons, or the development of the Calypso Project of social tourism, which seeks the promotion of tourism in the low season, the fight against seasonality and the stimulation of European citizens through tourist exchanges.

Other measures to be carried out in the member countries include the Prize to the more accessible city, awarded yearly by the EU to reward the efforts in this field. “If the country does not include accessibility in its policies and tourism strategies, it will become less attractive and competitive as a destination for everyone, especially for disabled persons and their families” the MEP warned.

Economic advantages of barrier-free tourism

From the economic point of view, Spain ranks highest in tourist destinations. Nevertheless, the traditional tourist pattern of summer tourism has been disrupted. Thus the development of new patterns of potential clients could improve financial profits.

One of the advantages of so-called “barrier-free tourism” is high competitiveness based on distinction. It is to be expected that in the coming years the sociodemographic and lifestyle changes, such as the ageing of the population, lead to an increase in the number of people with some sort of impairment.

Source: Discapnet / Mallorca Diario

Este artículo está también disponible en Spanish


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