Tourism; Training projects
July 2016 marked the launch of ‘visits4u’, an 18 month project that aimed to improve user experience and sustain inclusive design provision across its partners. The consortium comprised of seven partners from six countries: Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The rationale behind the project derives from relevant research and developments across Europe showing that staff attitude is ranked as a key factor for an enjoyable experience. The quality and availability of the right information to visitors are both considered equally important. visits4u will, therefore, aim to address better customer satisfaction under the inclusive tourism narrative, focusing on enhancing staff skills and improving information accessibility. This will be implemented through training, seminars for local tourism companies, case studies – demonstrating that access means good business – and toolkits to help embed inclusive practices in the field.
Scope of Visits4u
The project was structured into four work packages:
- Capacity Building
- Mapping Provision of Accessibility in Tourism
- Product Development and Implementation
- Dissemination and Evaluation.
Capacity Building in inclusive tourism
The pillar of the project has been to build capacity of the tourism sector across the partners’ regions through training activities that increased awareness and skills in developing inclusive tourism provision.
Following on from these activities, a series of online tools and resources has been developed, that are available for free via the project’s website:
An online forum comprising of:
- Access Guides for hotel and accommodation providers, for arts and cultural venues, shops and restaurants, as well as factsheets on accessibility in information and marketing for tourism professionals
- Frequently Asked Questions on inclusive design, different user needs and how tourism businesses can start making their service or product more accessible
- Case Studies on good practice in tourism accessibility ranging from hotels, self-catering accommodation and museums to projects capitalising on technology and online applications, and collaborations between disability organisations and hotel associations.
- Testimonials from tourism businesses and professionals who have already taken steps to become more accessible or decided to make their service more inclusive as result of their participation in the visits4u training activities
Online modules on inclusive tourism for Hotels and Accommodation providers, on D/deaf Awareness and Information and Wayfinding.
Partners in Greece, Latvia and Spain designed itineraries that promote local history and modern culture, with up to date access information for routes and places to visit:
visits4u Modern Art and Culture in Reus (Spain), Rhodes (Greece) and Sigulda (Latvia)
visits4u History and Heritage in Tarragona (Spain), Rhodes (Greece) and Riga (Latvia)
The final itineraries also propose and show an example of creating tourism products with presentation of the information in Easy Read and in Sign Language – including International Signs – as a core component of the packages. We hope that this proposal will encourage tourism boards and tour operators to implement the same approach in their promotional strategies.
‘Accessible Tourism for All’ conference
At the end of the project, a conference was held in Riga, Latvia, on 7th December 2017, organised and hosted by the Latvian partner, ‘Apeirons’, an organisation for disabled people and their friends.
The conference offered a comprehensive overview of tourism policies in Latvia at governmental level, actions taken by local authorities to make their cities more accessible and initiatives by organisations that contribute to improving the national or international visitors’ experience. We would like to mention particularly the presentation by the Jūrmala municipality, who was awarded the third prize of the EU Access City Award in 2017, and the Mapeirons mobile and online application that maps accessibility in Latvia.
The presentation on the European Commission’s policies on accessible tourism demonstrated the need and opportunities to continue developing inclusive tourism across the continent.
At the conference, CAE had the pleasure to present the visits4u learning and legacy, including the website and its new partnership with the European Network for Accessible Tourism – ENAT and PANTOU, on which visits4u is now listed as an ‘Accessibility Information Scheme’ in tourism. Visits4u partners shared their own learning, ideas and plans for the future.
You can go to the conference page on the visits4u website to view the programme and download the presentations.
visits4u comprises seven partners from six countries: Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Spain and the UK. The consortium provides a good practice model as it brings together stakeholders and SME’s from the broader tourism sector, organisations with expertise in inclusive environments and a public authority. This model offers an example for a sustainable and cost-effective support mechanism for the sector, where community and disability organisations can offer ongoing engagement with tourism businesses and advice on potential barriers; at the same time public authorities can actively help standardise the provision of inclusive tourism services in their region.
Lead partner / Coordinator:
Dimos Rodou (Municipality of Rhodes, Greece) www.rhodes.gr
Nikanor LTD (Bulgaria) www.nikanor.bg
Domspain Consulting LTD (Spain) www.domspain.eu
Nodibinajums Invalidu un Vinu Draugu Apvieniba Apeirons (Latvia) www.apeirons.lv
Istituto dei Sordi di Torino (Italy) www.istitutosorditorino.org
Asklipiades South Aegean Regional Social Protection and Solidarity Network (Greece) www.pwdservices.gr/en
Foteini Galanopoulou, European Projects Manager / R & D
Call: COS – TOUR – 2015 – 3 – 04 – 1
Reference number: 699484
Start/End dates: July 2016 – December 2017
visits4u has been co-funded by the COSME Programme of the European Union (2014-2020).