In the Castell-Platja d’Aro and S’Agaró Town Hall auditorium, several speakers take part in the round table. Image by Diego Espada.
Murmuracions is a series of activities in Castell-Platja d’Aro and S’Agaró to reflect on functional and intellectual diversity. It began on 21 October with a round table on accessibility and inclusive tourism.
A competitive and differentiated destination
The councillor for tourism of Castell-Platja d’Aro and S’Agaró, Jenny Xufré, opened the event by explaining several measures that have been implemented in the municipality in recent months in relation to inclusive tourism. In addition to having a tourist office adapted for PRM, this year a magnetic loop has also been installed for people with hearing impairment.
She also highlighted the improvements to the Els Estanys Park, a natural space of more than 150,000 m2 that hosts travelling art exhibitions. In addition to planning more parking spaces, ramps have also been installed and the paving of the viewpoints has been regularised to improve access and prevent falls. Xufré recalled: “We must not forget that our destination lives from and for tourism, and we want to be a competitive and differentiated destination”. Castell-Platja d’Aro and S’Agaró have been part of the Baix Empordà Tourism Accessibility Plan since 2019.
Reflections of the day
Isabel Godoy, Head of Inclusive and Senior Tourism of the Costa Brava Girona Tourist Board, moderated the round table. Representatives from the world of communication, tourism, sport and accessibility took part.
The first question addressed was what a person with a disability expects from a tourist destination. Josep Maria Solé, director of Support Girona, president of the Institut Guttmann and board member of the European Association of Service Providers to People with Disabilities (EASPD), was clear: “I expect the foreseeable to come true and the unforeseeable not to be bad”, a statement that includes the whole of society. Francisco Sardón, president of PREDIF(State Representative Platform of People with Physical Disability), added: “We do not expect anything different from what a non-disabled citizen expects: a pleasant experience”. He said that “many times we go where we can go, not where we want to go. We should be given the opportunity to choose”. He insisted on the idea that accessibility is a common good.
Montse Nualart, tourism technician at the Baix Empordà Regional Council, said that “it is essential to listen to people with disabilities”. Gabriel Gorce, vice-president of Play and Train, Paralympic medallist and runner-up in alpine skiing, said that it is important to put oneself in the shoes of people with disabilities in order to listen to them and empathise with their experience. He introduced the concept of “self-inclusion”: “People with disabilities have to wake up and see the potential they have. That is how things will change”.
Miguel Carrasco, director of PREDIF’s Accessible Tourism Area, explained that the basis for raising awareness in the sector is training and information. He also explained that they have created the personal assistant in tourism, a figure that helps the person with a disability once at the destination. And he stressed the importance of communication and of making the group visible in tourism promotion campaigns: “Seeing oneself reflected in an advertisement brings the customer who is looking for accessibility closer to the destination”.
Manu Heras, representative of the Girona association Multicapacitats, emphasised the tourism chain: “Transport is essential. We have many inclusive activities, but there has to be a link to connect them”. Sylvana Mestre, co-founder and CEO of Play and Train, member of the International Paralympic Committee and winner of the Paralympic Order, said that sometimes “solving accessibility is not so difficult, it’s just a matter of being inventive and creative”.
Regarding the future, all agreed that good work is being done, although much remains to be done. Nualart added that “the society is changing, it wants to be more inclusive”. Mestre said that “there are regulations that are not complied with or are only half complied with, but a lot of progress is being made”. And Carrasco affirmed that it is necessary to “commit to inclusive tourism, but not with an exclusive offer, but with an integrated offer”.
The event was interpreted in Catalan sign language and was broadcast live. It can be seen on the Platja d’Aro Town Council YouTube channel. The activities of the Murmuracions cycle will continue for a year.