By day, a young man with an orthopaedic leg smiles while flying in a tandem paraglider over a mountainous landscape at La Garrotxa. Image of Vol Factory.
The Costa Brava and the Girona Pyrenees have been the central theme in the first webinar of the cycle “Plan your trip: accessible tourism and COVID-19”, organised by PREDIF (State Representative Platform for People with Physical Disabilities) with the support of Fundación ONCE. This is a cycle that aims to publicise the health security measures that are being applied in different types of tourist resources, specifically the measures that affect the accessibility of facilities and services, as well as to publicise accessible tourist destinations.
Tatiana Alemán, technical director of Universal Accessibility, Culture and Inclusive Tourism at PREDIF, began the session by pointing out that the Costa Brava and the Girona Pyrenees “are two regions with a great deal of tourist supply that have worked hard in the field of accessible tourism.” She went on to add that it’s important that inclusive tourism is being developed in collaboration with social entities.
Inclusive supply throughout the territory
The head of Inclusive and Senior Tourism area of the Costa Brava Girona Tourism Board (PTCBG), Isabel Godoy, gave an overview of the tourism supply in the Girona counties and pointed out that they are working in “developing inclusion, which goes hand in hand with accessibility, resulting in the expansion of tourism throughout the territory”.
As for the coastal regions, she stressed that each of the 20 municipalities of the Costa Brava has at least one accessible beach. She also highlighted there are resources for accessible hiking thanks to three Joëlette chairs, and accessible cultural tourism in areas such as the Greco-Roman site of Empúries, which can be visited in a wheelchair, has an audio guide and inclusive guided tours. Finally, she highlighted two initiatives managed by two of the PTCBG’s marketing clubs: Cultura e Identidad and Ruta del Vino DO Empordà. On the one hand, the Som Cultura initiative, a collection of genuine cultural activities that aims to promote inclusive initiatives throughout the month of November, and on the other, the Vívid, dedicated to the Empordà wine route in April, which this year, despite having been cancelled by the COVID, included 22 inclusive activities.
The Baix Empordà Tourism Accessibility Plan
In her speech, the Baix Empordà District Council’s Tourism Technician, Montse Nualart, presented the Baix Empordà Tourism Accessibility Plan, a tourism project that began in 2017 and aims to promote the district as an accessible tourist destination. The programme began with a diagnosis of the state of the district and the creation of good practice manuals because, according to Nualart, “throughout this process, we have realised that sometimes we don’t make things accessible, not because we don’t want to, but because we don’t know how to do it”.
Three years after the start of the project, at the end of this month of September, a new brochure on tourism for all will be launched, which includes 25 resources among tourist offices, campsites, museums, routes and accessible historical sites, such as Pals or Peratallada, which, although not entirely accessible, do include some routes adapted to mobility and also for people with visual disabilities.
The Garrotxa experience
Turismo Garrotxa aims to develop and promote a model of sustainable tourism that respects the environment, following the criteria of the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism and treating inclusive tourism in a cross-cutting way. David Curós, a technician from the entity, spoke about the lines of work, among which communication plays a central role: “We must ensure that all tourism resources provide information on accessibility and the level of difficulty.” We also want to promote healthy tours, take into account the language diversity of the visitor and improve the gastronomic offer for everyone, catering to food intolerances. In addition, the website offers an accommodation search engine where people can check the availability of a range of accessibility measures, for example, whether they are suitable for people with mobility difficulties or whether they have adaptations for people with visual disabilities.
“A type of tourism designed for everyone”
MIFAS Girona, an organization that works for accessibility and collaborates in initiatives for tourism inclusion that are carried out in the territory, also participated in the webinar. Josep Planiol, secretary of the board of directors of the organisation and a wheelchair user, gave an account of the inclusive tourism supply available in the counties of Girona. He highlighted, among other things, the adapted sports centre in La Molina, the bicycle tours in La Cerdanya, the vía verdebetween Olot and Sant Feliu de Guíxols, the adapted hot air balloon or paragliding rides in La Garrotxa or the possibility of practising adapted sailing in La Escala. In short, he stressed “the determination of tour operators to improve” and the involvement of the authorities. And he concluded by pointing out that the Costa Brava and the Girona Pyrenees “promote a type of tourism designed for everyone.”