In November 2016 DomSpain Consulting ltd, the Spanish partner, organised 4 seminars targeting stakeholders of the Tarragona region from different sectors of the tourism industry (tourism offices, hotels, restaurants, shops, etc.), technicians, decision-makers and local associations active in the field of tourism. The main objectives of the seminars were to raise awareness of the participants on the issues related to inclusive tourism and travel provisions for customers with special needs as well as inspire the tourism stakeholders to take up an active role in the following phases of the visits4u project: mapping provisions for accessible routes in Reus and Tarragona, identifying inclusion challenges and, if possible, making adjustments to ensure participation in travel of tourists with specific access requirements.
The early promotion of the workshops, the time of the working sessions suitable for different groups (one group in the morning, another in the afternoon and two more groups in the evening) and direct contacts with potential participants helped encourage people and organisations of the province to get involved and brought about the diversity of the participants coming from different sectors of the tourism industry and society levels. Prior to the workshops, the majority of the participants declared their interest in the theme and motivation to collaborate with the team in further project activities and approximately 30% had a previous experience in working with tourists with special needs.
During the sessions, participants came up with the conclusions that tourism stakeholders should be aware of and have an open-minded and non-discriminatory approach to tourists with special needs. The importance of providing the right and detailed information while describing the level of access provision was also greatly emphasised: for example, a restaurant should not only inform clients about external and internal environment, but also about availability of Braille or large print menu, dietary requirements catered for, etc. This information is crucial as every tourist has different needs and this information will help to understand if this is the right place for him/her to choose or book.
The seminars also served as a platform to elaborate joint reflections on the importance of adequate education and training (formal or informal) for tourism industry workers and assume that only through taking up a responsibility and an active role by all tourism stakeholders is it realistic to create an environment where all tourists, with all their needs, are felt welcome.
If you want to get involved in the project in Tarragona, Spain, you can contact DomSpain directly (details here: www.visits4u.eu/contact-us)