Conferencia Final en Riga – Turismo accesible para todos

El 7 de diciembre de 2017, la organización letona de personas con discapacidad y sus amigos ‘Apeirons’ organizó la conferencia final del proyecto ‘Visits4u – Turismo Accesible para Todos”, cofinanciado por el programa COSME de la Unión Europea. El tema de la conferencia fue sobre el acceso al turismo para personas con discapacidades y el desarrollo de un turismo inclusivo para todos.

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El presidente de la junta de Apeirons dijo que “el turismo y la posibilidad de viajar es importante para todos, pero el concepto de turismo accesible en Letonia y en todo el mundo todavía requiere más trabajo. Por supuesto, los lugares turísticos son lugares específicos y garantizar la accesibilidad en esos lugares a menudo requiere creatividad, imaginación y soluciones no estándar, pero estamos muy contentos que cada vez más lugares de turismo en Letonia sean accesibles para la sociedad. Es importante entender que el turismo inclusivo no solo significa el acceso físico mediante el establecimiento de rampas para que el usuario de silla de ruedas pueda moverse con facilidad. Este concepto implica una perspectiva mucho más amplia: el turismo accesible significa actuar para que todos puedan disfrutar de las instalaciones turísticas: tanto familias con niños pequeños, personas con discapacidades visuales y auditivas, intelectuales y físicas, como personas mayores. La provisión de turismo accesible en lugar de la reconstrucción de lugares o la implementación de soluciones tecnológicas adicionales requieren un cambio en el pensamiento y la actitud de las personas involucradas en el turismo. Por lo tanto, me alegré de que tuviéramos una conferencia de este tipo en Letonia, donde hemos tenido la oportunidad de debatir con organizaciones, negocios y responsables en el campo del turismo aquí en Letonia para que estén más abiertos al turismo accesible”.

La conferencia comenzó con presentaciones de políticas y estrategias sobre turismo accesible, y su implementación, por parte de la Comisión Europea y el Ministerio de Economía en Letonia. Posteriormente, diferentes empresas turísticas presentaron cómo se involucran en el turismo accesible y lo que hacen para mejorar los servicios que brindan y Apeirons presentó su aplicación móvil de lugares accesibles “Mapeirons”, donde es posible encontrar atracciones turísticas y otros lugares accesibles para personas con discapacidades. La sesión final de la conferencia estuvo dedicada al proyecto Visits4u, presentando su progreso desde julio de 2016 y sus resultados: los itinerarios de visitas en Arte Moderno y Cultura y en Historia y Patrimonio en Letonia (Sigulda y Riga), España (Reus y Tarragona) y Grecia (Rodas). Durante las sesiones de discusión, los socios del proyecto (The Centre for Accessible Environments (Reino Unido), Asklipiades South Regional Social Protection and Solidarity Network (Grecia), DomSpain Consulting (España), Istituto dei Sordi di Torino (Italia), Municipality of Rhodes (Grecia), Nikanor (Bulgaria) y Apeirons (Letonia) – hablaron de sus aportaciones al proyecto, el proceso de aprendizaje que he representado para sus organizaciones y sus ideas de implementación para el futuro.

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Para más información sobre el proyecto, podéis visitar la página web www.visits4u.eu

Project visits4u final conference – Accessible Tourism for All in Riga

On 07th of December 2017,  the Latvian organization of people with disabilities and their friends “Apeirons” held an international conference “Accessible Tourism for All” as part of the project “visits4u”, which is co-funded by the COSME programme of the European Union. The conference theme was on tourism accessibility for people with disabilities and developing inclusive  tourism for everyone.

Ivars Balodis, Chairman of the Board of organization of people with disabilities and their friends “Apeirons” says: “Tourism and the possibility to travel is important for everyone, but the concept of accessible tourism in Latvia and around the world still requires further work. Of course, tourism places are specific places and ensuring accessibility in those places often requires creativity, imagination and non-standard solutions, but I’m pleased that more and more tourism places in Latvia are becoming accessible to  society. It is important to understand that inclusive tourism does not only mean the physical, environmental accessibility by setting up ramps in order for a wheelchair user to move easily. This concept involves a much broader perspective – accessible tourism means acting so that everyone can enjoy the atmosphere of tourist facilities – families with small children, people with visual and hearing, intellectual, physical impairments, as well as seniors. The provision of accessible tourism rather than reconstruction of places, implementation of additional technological solutions requires change of the thinking and attitude of people involved in tourism. Therefore, I was pleased that we had such conference her in Latvia where we had possibility to discuss with tourism organizations, business, tourism makers here in Latvia to make them more open to accessible tourism.”

 

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The conference began with presentations of policies and strategies on accessible tourism, and their implementation, by the European Commission and the  Ministry of Economics in Latvia. The Municipalities of the Latvian towns of Jurmalas and Siguldas, presented what they have done respectively to make Tourism in their regions more accessible for people with disabilities. For example, the municipality in Jurmala earned the third place in the ‘Access City Award 2017’, the European prize that recognises good practice in making cities more accessible. This is a very good example how local authorities can work to make their cities accessible to everyone.

Subsequently, different tourism businesses presented how they are involved in accessible tourism and what they do to improve the services they provide: Latvia’s States Forest main business is forest management but in their forest they have created tourism attractions and many of these attractions are accessible for people with disabilities in Latvia. The Latvian Museum of Natural History which is located in an inaccessible building and due to its cultural heritage status it is not easy to make changes in the building. However, the Museum have been actively seeking solutions to overcome the physical barriers of the building and improve the visitors’ experience in their premises. As a result, they are developing accessibility of their programmes and finding suitable alternative solutions where possible.    The Latvian green movement, together with Apeirons, has created a Certification of Accessible Natural Places which will be awarded to natural places as a sign that they are accessible.  Apeirons presented their mobile application of accessible places “Mapeirons”, where it is possible to find tourism attraction and other places what are accessible for people with disabilities.

The final session of the conference was dedicated to the Visits4u project, presenting its progress since July 2016 and its outputs: the visits4u itineraries in Modern Art and Culture and in History and Heritage in Latvia (Sigulda and Riga), Spain (Reus and Tarragona) and Greece (Rhodes). Furthermore, the visits4u online tools and resources were presented for the first time: Access Guides, Case Studies and Online Training modules, which are available for free via the project’s website. During the two discussion panels, visits4u partners – the Centre for Accessible Environments (UK), Asklipiades South Regional Social Protection and Solidarity Network (Greece), DomSpain Consulting LTD (Spain), Turin institution for the Deaf (Italy), Municipality of Rhodes (Greece), Nikanor LTD (Bulgaria), Apeirons (Latvia)  – talked about their work as part of the project, their learning and ideas for future plans.

Conference delegates had the opportunity to gain international theoretical and practical information on how to make tourism accessible to everyone. During the intervals delegates visited the conference’s exhibition on accessible tourism and environment where they could try different assistive equipment, watch the visits4u videos in Sign Language and get information materials on accessibility and accessible tourism.

 

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Further information about the project: www.visits4u.eu