Publicado por: Ricardo Shimosakai | 09/01/2013

Award-winning website aims to make Spain more accessible to tourists

TurAcess-IVB - Sistema de autoevaluación y mejora

A website, which informs Spanish tourism managers about the accessibility of their facilities, has been presented with the Ulysses Award for Innovation in Research and Technology at the World Tourism Organization.

According to the European Disability Forum; there are around 80 million Europeans with a disability. In Spain there are around 3.5 million people, approximately 9% of the population, who are mobility-impaired or have problems communicating. So going on holiday can be complicated, particularly when trying to find a hotel, restaurant or tourist site, which can cater to their needs. Many hotels may describe themselves as “wheelchair friendly”, but common complaints include; a step being at the hotel entrance, an elevator being too small for a wheelchair, and poorly designed accessible hotel bathrooms.

The Instituto de Biomecánica in Valencia, who designed the website, aims to inform the Spanish tourism industry, on how accessible their facilities really are. The tool also provides proposals on how to improve accessibility, which is prioritized by importance and urgency, based on current laws and standards.

The online tool, TurAcces/IBV, is the result of several years of research, with support by the Regional Ministry of Tourism of the Generalitat Valenciana, and the European Union (through their European Regional Development Fund). As well as the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade of Spain, and the Regional Ministry of Culture and Tourism Community of Madrid.

The website provides recommendations on how to make facilities more accessible in tourist and leisure areas – believing it to be not just a basic quality factor, but an opportunity to differentiate and attract new customers. Recommendations include providing wider doors, non-skid floors, handrails in hallways and staircases for support. These simple adaption’s can also help increasing number of elderly tourists.

Director of Tourism and Leisure of IBV, Javier Ferris says; ‘The purpose of this tool is that accommodations and restaurants comprehensively improve their level of accessibility, allowing to configure an accessible tourism that ensures quality in tourism for the entire population, while increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.’

The website also informs tourism managers that by following the guidelines will help to provide a better service to customers with disabilities, whilst also opening up new business opportunities, improve profitability and competitiveness.

The overall goal for agents in tourism, declares the site, is to ensure all products, services and tourist environments are enjoyed by all tourists alike.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the UNWTO Knowledge Network confer the UNWTO Ulysses Prize and Awards annually to highlight and showcase Innovation and Application of Knowledge in Tourism. The award to IBV recognizes the work of this technology centre in the tourism sector, where it has operated since 2005 with the aim of increasing differentiation and positioning of tourism enterprises.

Source: CORDIS


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