Tourist Board aiming to make Algarve more disabled-friendly
15/05/2010 | 0 comments
The Regional Algarve Tourist Board (ERTA) has this week revealed its intention to improve facilities in the Algarve for the disabled tourists, aiming to make the region more adequate for their needs and in turn welcome a sector that had previously been unexplored.
Dr. António Almeida Pires, Vice-President of the ERTA, told The Portugal News this week that improving facilities for visitors with disabilities was at the forefront of the Board’s concerns.
“This conversation has come at a good time precisely as the ERTA has deemed it fundamental and strategic for the region to approach the question of accessibility throughout Algarvean terrain, and believes it is just as strategic to ‘Flag’ the Algarve as an accessible destination, as well as making it a distinguishing feature”, he said from the ERTA headquarters in Faro.
At the end of last year, Dr. Pires was handed a dossier on the subject and confessed “It is a subject I was not properly familiarised with”.
“If you were to ask me how many hotels, units, or open spaces are properly equipped then we will start a conversation that won’t get us anywhere because first we have to define the concept [of accessibility]”, he said, indicating that “there is an immensity of disabilities”.
“According to statistics around 10 percent of the population suffers from some form of disability”, the ERTA Vice-President revealed, “and as a general rule they travel accompanied by at least one other person.
“We are talking about numbers that from a tourism point of view are extraordinarily important and strategic to the Algarve”.
For this the ERTA is in the process of developing a “Code of Good Practices” to make the region more accessible and attractive to disabled tourists.
“We must not be hypocritical, accessible tourism [could be] a community and economic activity that has been unexplored”, he said.
An invitation was extended to companies specialising in accessibility to present proposals suggesting how to improve the Algarve as a disability-friendly destination and develop a long-term strategic process to achieve such.
Three proposals are currently on the table and comprise “differentiated elements that are properly prepared for receiving a multitude of people who do not travel exactly because the destinations are not duly equipped to receive them”.
“Three companies are willing to define strategic points to develop accessible tourism in the Algarve”, he affirmed.
While very little has so far been made public, Dr. Pires believes the procedure is now in the “final stretch”.
To further stress the importance of the matter the ERTA, in collaboration with the Portuguese Tourism Board, have organized a first International Conference on Accessible Tourism, which will be held in the Algarve on May 28th.
- the Conference Programme and Registration Form (in Portuguese) from the right/hand panel.