Portugal was the first country to receive the WTO Accessible Tourist Destination 2019 award from the World Tourism Organization.
According to a statement from the State Secretariat of Tourism (SET), "This distinction was presented on Tuesday during the 23rd General Assembly of this body, which is taking place in St. Petersburg, Russia."
“Portugal is the only country to receive this distinction, which is awarded for the first time this year by the WTO in partnership with the ONCE Foundation, and which recognizes Portugal's efforts to promote accessibility in tourism. Only in Europe there is a market of 90 million tourists with specific mobility needs, so this distinction is very important to position Portugal as a leader in accessibility, ”said the statement.
The same document points out that “the affirmation of Portugal as an accessible country has been one of the great priorities of this Government”.
“In 2016, the 'All for All' program was launched with the aim of empowering the national tourism offer, creating accessible itineraries throughout the country, promoting the accessible offer from north to south and promoting Portugal as an inclusive destination for all”, defends the statement.
According to the Secretary of State for Tourism, “in this context accessible roadmaps that are available at 'Visit Portugal' were created, guides to good practice were developed and a specific funding line was launched to support accessibility projects in tourism under the ' Valorize Program '”.
“To date, 116 projects have been supported, representing an investment of 20 million euros, and receiving support of 14 million euros. Among the projects supported are, for example, the creation of accessibility in the Convent of Christ, São Jorge Castle, the Mafra National Palace or the Calém Caves (Vila Nova de Gaia), ”said the statement.
SET adds that the portal and the ‘app’ ‘Tur4All’ have also been launched, “which makes it possible to know the hotel, restaurant and culture offer for people with specific mobility needs in Portugal and Spain”.
On the other hand, “in the Tourism Schools, a module dedicated to accessible tourism has been included in the curricula of students, with a total of 1,059 students trained in this theme”.
“In addition to the 'Beach Accessible' program, this year the 'Festivals + Accessible' program was launched, which aims to distinguish events that present accessibility conditions for people with specific needs, such as pregnant women, seniors, wheelchair users, blind people, among others, ”explains SET.
For Secretary of State for Tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho, "this distinction is received with great satisfaction and is a great impetus for Portugal to become the most inclusive destination in the world."
“This is a matter of citizenship and this is also a very important segment in world tourism. Much remains to be done. Who loses this carriage loses the train ”, warned the ruler.
For her part, Ana Sofia Antunes, Secretary of State for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities, considers that “this is the recognition of a solid and structured work that Portugal has been doing to promote more and better accessibility for all”, highlighting , in addition to the aforementioned accessible tourism financing line, the 'More Access Program', “which will support accessibility promotion projects in about 50 municipalities for a total of € 15 million”, as well as global surveys the accessibility conditions of the public building that will allow the State to draw up multiannual plans to improve accessibility to the respective heritage.
“This Government has taken safe steps to make Portugal a truly inclusive country. It is a path with no return, because we are obliged by all those we work for, whether they are people with disabilities or disabled in their mobility, ”added Ana Sofia Antunes.