Event Report. Accessible Tourism: Innovative Approaches Between Accessibility and Heritage Protection

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On 5 December 2014, 27 speakers from local regional authorities and others met at the EESC to discuss ways of improving inclusive social, political and physical infrastructures while promoting accessibility for all within the tourism industry.

League of Historical Accessible Cities conference banner

On 5 December, 27 speakers from local regional authorities and others met at the European Economic and Social Committee premises in Brussels to discuss ways of improving inclusive social, political and physical infrastructures while promoting accessibility for all within the tourism industry.

Laying the foundation for the discussions were presentations that tackled 4 main themes: Services, Public Private Partnerships, Cultural Heritage and Technology Solutions - all framed around the example of six European cities featured in the League of Historical and Accessible Cities project.

Discussions highlighted key issues found in transport provision services and channels used to communicate to visitors in the mainstream tourism sector. They questioned and challenged the common barrier of having separate information channels and access limitations in tourism facilities and highlighted the bottlenecks in accessible transport provision.

Private-Public partnerships are undoubtedly considered crucial in providing the structure to support the integration of inclusive accessible services. Their benefits and challenges were shared through inspiring good practise examples that concluded key lessons: the need to make local level cooperation more visible, bottom-up approaches more efficient and ensure inter-sectorial approaches such as using e-commerce for integrating accessibility in tourism.

The discussion then tackled a crucial debate: how is it possible to break the barriers of accessibility while protecting heritage in cultural hubs in Europe? Panellists provided creative and innovative ways of seeing the debate from a different angle, including perspectives that acknowledge the importance of using inter-sectorial collaboration to blend aesthetical architecture and access in heritage structures.

Technology solutions were likewise illustrated through creative and innovative solution-based approaches which can conciliate accessibility for all while ensuring heritage protection. It was agreed that the next step lies in bringing out their benefits and addressing limitations to ensure their scalability and replicability.

Brilliant projects and initiatives were shared with the objective of opening up opportunities to exchange knowledge and experience. Most importantly, the discussion helped to reframe the debate of accessibility and heritage protection with fresh and creative ways of blending accessibility for all in heritage protection.

​Please find all the panelists' presentations in the links below.
You may also access the transcript of the conference here
Chairman: Christo Velkov, EurActiv Foundation
Open Plenary_Maria Orejas European Foundation Centre, Belgium
Open Plenary_Marie Denninghaus European Disability Forum, Belgium
Moderator: Ivor Ambrose, ENAT - European Network for Accessible Tourism
Panel 1_Pilar Soret ILUNION, Spain
Panel 1_ Paola De Donato Handy Superabile, Italy
Panel 1_Pieter Ghijsels Tourism Flanders, Belgium
Panel 1_ Miguel Gerez AMT Concept asbl., Belgium

Moderator: Gerd Grenner, Eurocities
Panel 2_ Chantal Hurst Fondation Réunica, France
Panel 2_ Maria Elena Rossi Regione Piemonte, Italy
Panel 2_Eric Philippart European Commission, Belgium
Panel 2_ Milena Kozomara United Nations Development Programme in Serbia
Moderator: Fionnuala Rogerson International Union of Architects (UIA), Ireland
Panel 3_ Jørgen Tryk Hansen Viborg Municipality, Denmark
Panel 3_Marcus Weisen L'École de Design, Nantes Atlantique, France
Panel 3_Ivan Karagyozov Sozopol Foundation and Burgas Psychological Centre for Research, Bulgaria

Moderator: Ivor Ambrose, European Network for Accessible Tourism - ENAT
Panel 4_Luca Fanucci University of Pisa, Italy
Panel 4_Daniel Van Lerberghe  EurActiv Foundation, Social Media Director & Politech Founder, Belgium
Panel 4_Michael Fembek ESSL Foundation, Austria
Panel 4_Maxim Dubinin Metro For All, Russian Federation

Visit the website of the European Foundation Centre.

Visit the website of the League of Historical, Accessible Cities.