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Greece Focuses On Accessible Tourism

Photo: European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT)

Photo: European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT)

The Greek Tourism Ministry and the Greek National Confederation of Disabled People (ESAmeA) will work together so that persons with disabilities will have access in cultural life, recreation, leisure and sport.

According to a cooperation protocol signed on 28 March between Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni and ESAmeA President Ioannis Vardakastanis, both sides will promote and implement actions – on a national level – to ensure the accessibility of infrastructure and services to people with disabilities and other social groups with similar characteristics.

“This agreement aims to coordinate actions so that the (Greek) tourism product is accessible to people with disabilities of all categories,” Mrs. Kefalogianni said.

According to the tourism minister, potential foreign visitors with a disability currently do not choose Greece as a holiday destination as not all of the country’s services are accessible.

“We want to change this,” she said.

The agreement will also aim to ensure that people with disabilities will have access to reliable tourism information and communications.

During the meeting, Mr. Vardakastanis suggested the creation of an access and information guide for persons with disabilities, an idea that Mrs. Kefalogianni found excellent.

The tourism ministry intends to inform Greek tourism professionals on the potential benefits of accessible tourism. Actions for accessible tourism in Greece will be coordinated at both the government level and at the level of regions and municipalities.

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  1. ENAT, the European Network for Accessible Tourism, with its Secretariat in Halandri, has advocated that Greek destinations, the public sector and tourism businesses should have better guidance and support to prepare themselves for the growing European and global accessible tourism market. Firstly, solid investments are needed to improve the accessibility of the tourism product, the environment and transportation in Greece. Better information for visitors, targeted marketing, professional and specialised tourist guiding and new accessible experiences for seniors, disabled people and families with young children all come under the umbrella of “Accessible Tourism for All”. Renewing the “can do” attitude of the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2004 would be a great start – revitalising the access legacy of 10 years ago and spreading good practices across the whole of the country. Greece has slipped behind many of its competitors in the Mediterranean region, as regards accessible tourism but it has some bright spots, for example the accessibility of its museums. Dear Minister, Dear Mr. Vardakastanis, let us take a fresh look at what is really needed, now, together with all the relevant actors and stakeholders and create a national action plan to make Greece an Accessible Destination for All!

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