SOMTOTS

PREDIF highlights the range of accessible active tourism on offer in the counties of Girona

Francisco Sardón, with his back to the camera, moves forward in a wheelchair through the mediaeval town of Pals. It is a narrow, cobbled path, but with an even surface, surrounded by stone buildings. Image by Isabel Godoy.

Four days on the Costa Brava and in the Girona Pyrenees were enough for Francisco Sardón, President of PREDIF (State Representative Platform for People with Physical Disabilities), to return home convinced that the counties of Girona are committed to inclusive tourism and, in particular, to accessible active tourism.

Sardón, accompanied by other representatives of PREDIF, visited the Costa Brava and the Girona Pyrenees last October at the invitation of Inclusive and Senior Tourism of the Costa Brava Girona Tourist Board. Sardón, who was not familiar with the area, describes the experience as “pleasant and surprising”, and says: “My expectations were far exceeded”.

“A top tourist destination”

The director of PREDIF’s Accessible Tourism Area, Miguel Carrasco, explains that ours is “a destination with a lot of potential and with many initiatives.” Sardón declares: “I would dare to say that Girona and its surrounding area is a top tourist destination worldwide, but perhaps it is not a place that is well known to tourists who demand accessibility.” And he adds: “It is not only a sun and beach destination, which is already very good in itself, it also has inland tourism.” And he concludes: “Everything a person with a disability could be looking for in terms of accessibility, they will find it here.”

At the information centre of the Aiguamolls de l'Empordà Natural Park, a guide shows a visitor a relief map of the park. The visitor holds up a card. Below an illustration of a mallard, there is information about the species in text and Braille. Image by Isabel Godoy.
At the information centre of the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park, a guide shows a visitor a relief map of the park. The visitor holds up a card. Below an illustration of a mallard, there is information about the species in text and Braille. Image by Isabel Godoy.

The experience began in Girona with a guided tour of the city. The second day took them to the Alt Empordà. In l’Escala, they enjoyed the Club Nàutic de l’Escala‘s inclusive sailing experience. They discovered the Greco-Roman past of Empúries at the archaeological site, and strolled through the medieval centre of Sant Martí d’Empúries.

They also visited the Aiguamolls de l’Empordà Natural Park, one of the main wetlands in Catalonia; they tasted the wines of the La Vinyeta winery and visited the Citadel of Roses. The tour in the region ended at the Empuriabrava Wind Tunnel, “an amazing experience” for Sardón, who was very satisfied with the physical accessibility elements included in the experience and the training of the monitors in “dealing with people with disabilities.”

An outstanding offer in accessible active tourism

The third day took them to La Selva, where they visited the Balneari Prats spa, in Caldes de Malavella. Then, in the Baix Empordà, they went to Santa Cristina d’Aro, where they visited the old carrilet railway station and the Font Picant de Bell-lloc. They also cycled along a section of the carrilet route. They visited the Fishing Museum in Palamós, walked along the accessible route through the historic centre of Pals and discovered the Diving Center La Sirena in L’Estartit. In this case, Sardón emphasised: “The managers of the centre were very proud that people with disabilities could also enjoy the sea.”

On a boat, Sardón listens attentively to one of the managers of the Diving Center La Sirena, who explains to him how the boat's lifting platform works. In the background, there are the Medes Islands. Image by Isabel Godoy.
On a boat, Sardón listens attentively to one of the managers of the Diving Center La Sirena, who explains to him how the boat’s lifting platform works. In the background, there are the Medes Islands. Image by Isabel Godoy.

On the last day, they visited the Ilunion Caleta Park Hotel in S’Agaró and a section of the coastal path, an itinerary that becomes a stroll between architecture and nature.

Following the visit to the counties of Girona, Sardón is pleased that active tourism, “a sector that usually did not consider people with disabilities as potential customers,” is improving its tourism offer and adapting it. “The private sector is realising that, if it wants to be competitive, it must offer its services to as many people as possible, including people with disabilities.”

On the S'Agaró coastal path, Sardón contemplates the sea views from one of the cliffs that run along the coast. Image by Isabel Godoy.
On the S’Agaró coastal path, Sardón contemplates the sea views from one of the cliffs that run along the coast. Image by Isabel Godoy.

The visited spaces that have met the entity’s accessibility criteria will be included in the TUR4all platform, PREDIF’s portal of accessible tourism resources for all.