Portugal has received an award from the World Tourism Organization (WTO) as the official barrier-free destination. At the same time, many of those living here are wondering how that can be. Accessibility is not perceived here in the broad masses. So how did this award come about and what does it mean?
Award by the World Tourism Organization
In recent days, it has been repeatedly reported in different places. Portugal is barrier-free. Especially in the context of the World Tourism Day on 27.09.2019 it was announced from all sides.
In fact, the situation is a little different. The World Tourism Organization has awarded Portugal as first country to make a major effort to achieve accessibility for people with physical disabilities.
What is the perceived situation?
Therefore right now many of the people living here wonder, how it can be, that this award was given to Portugal. Many old towns across the country are paved with stylistically beautiful, but absolutely non-accessible floors. Steep stairs to which there are no bypasses, high curbs, missing walkways, and of course due to the topography difficult to access beaches. All these are long-standing problems and widespread improvement is imperceptible.
Especially on facebook, the topic is discussed as usual heated.
What does the award mean?
In the end, however, Portugal was not, as described above, awarded the title of Accessibility. The award was for having made greater efforts than other countries to provide accessibility in tourist-related regions.
This award was given for the first time. This shows that the megatrend of the aging population has arrived in tourism. Of course, nowhere in the world has there been universal accessibility. Obviously, however, Portugal is well on its way and, according to the jury of the World Tourism Organization, is apparently more successful in its efforts than other tourist regions.
That is the reason for the award and that is a very good sign at the same time.
It seems that Portugal is well on the way to adapting to the problems of the future. Climate protection, landscape conservation and resource conservation have long been discussed topics. (Of course, not everything has gone well and right here in the last few years, even though a lot of good things got off the ground and a lot has happened in the recent past, but that is material for another blog post.)
However, Portugal also seems to have realized that now is the time to prepare for the big challenges of the future. To date, 116 projects have been funded in Portugal to provide accessibility. (Sources: “Entdecken Sie Algarve”, “lonelyplanet”)
The award is therefore no praise for what has been achieved, but a rewarding of efforts and recognition of the fact that Portugal is actively adapting to the challenges of the future.
From my point of view, this is always worth an award and reason enough to celebrate. Even if, of course, not all is well!
What is your opinion?
What do you think about that? Is Portugal on the right track? Are there other countries that use as much or even more for the creation of comprehensive accessibility? Was Portugal rightly awarded or was the award too early?