Quality and Accessible Tourism

(by Ignazio Caloggero)

1) Terms and Definitions

Let's start with some definitions that can constitute the supporting bricks on which the construction of a model is based that combines the concepts of Accessible Tourism and Quality.

Quality:  Ability of a set of characteristics inherent to an entity to confirm the expectations referable to it by all interested parties

Tourism: Tourism is the complex of activities aimed at promoting and facilitating the transfer of tourists out of their residence and, subsequently, to receive them (Encyclopedia De Agostini).

Tourist: Those who travel for fun, entertainment or education (Enciclopedia De Agostini).

According to the definition of the World Tourism Organization (a department of the United Nations), a tourist is anyone who travels to countries other than the one in which he has his habitual residence, outside his daily environment, for a period of at least one night but not exceeding one year, the usual purpose of which is different from the exercise of any remunerated activity within the visited country. This term includes those who travel for: leisure, rest and vacation; to visit friends and relatives; for business and professional reasons, for health, religious / pilgrimage reasons and more

Accessible Tourism: Tourism capable of confirming the expectations referable to it by all interested parties with particular reference to those parts that express expectations related to special needs.

Special Needs: Special needs are related to permanent or temporary difficulties of various kinds.

A non-exhaustive list of special needs is as follows:

  • Movement needs (reduced mobility, obesity, presence of children with prams, etc.)
  • Sensory needs (visual and / or auditory)
  • Food (food allergies and intolerances)
  • Cheap (limited financial resources)
  • Environmental (allergies, pathologies that involve particular climatic needs, etc.) 

Other specific needs may arise from other elements such as the presence of a particular user: children, the elderly, people with mental or psychic disabilities, pets, etc.

Returning to the definition given of Quality, the entity to which we refer is Tourism and the interested parties are those who express special needs.

accessible tourism

2) Quality and Accessible Tourism

Talking about Accessible Tourism is therefore equivalent to talking about Quality Tourism. And in fact almost all the quality factors that we introduced talking about "Factors and quality indicators in tourism and in the management of cultural heritage”Contribute to Accessible Tourism, in particular: Accessibility, Competence, Communication, Hospitality, Safety, Infrastructures and Equipment.

Identifying the elements of Accessible Tourism therefore means identifying the various objective and measurable indicators that make it possible to measure the qualitative level reached by the various activities that affect tourism as they are capable of confirming the expectations of all the interested parties with particular reference to those parts that express special needs.

By way of example, let's see some of the indicators referable to the "Accessibility" quality factor.

For the sake of brevity we limit ourselves to one component of this factor, that of physical accessibility, which should be considered a starting point.

It may be useful to identify the indicators starting from the definitions taken from the sector regulations.

Article 2 "Definitions" of Ministerial Decree 236/1989, provides the following definitions:

A) For architectural barriers we mean:

a) physical obstacles that are a source of discomfort for the mobility of anyone and in particular of those who, for whatever reason, have a permanent or temporary reduced or impeded motor capacity;

b) obstacles that limit or prevent anyone from the comfortable and safe use of parts, equipment or components;

c) the lack of precautions and signals that allow the orientation and recognition of places and sources of danger for anyone and in particular for the blind, the visually impaired and the deaf.

G) Accessibility means the possibility, even for people with reduced or impeded motor or sensory ability, of reach the building   and its individual real estate and environmental units, of enter easily and make use of its spaces and equipment in conditions of adequate safety and autonomy.

H) Visibility means the possibility, even by people with reduced or impeded motor or sensory ability, to access the relationship spaces and at least one toilet in each housing unit. The living or dining areas of the accommodation and those of the work, service and meeting places, in which the citizen enters into relationship with the function performed there, are spaces of relationship.

I) By adaptability we mean the possibility of modifying the built space over time at limited costs, in order to make it completely and easily usable even by people with reduced or impeded motor or sensory ability.

The same Ministerial Decree 236/1989 provides a series of specific indicators relating to the measures and dimensions that must have environments, equipment and accessories for the purpose of adequate accessibility (doors, floors, fixtures, furnishings, toilets, balconies, horizontal paths and corridors, stairs, ramps, lifts, parking lots, etc.).

Here we will not list all the indicators that can be extrapolated from the aforementioned Ministerial Decree and those identifiable from other sources, we will limit ourselves, by way of example, to a short generic list of measurable indicators, the dimensional parameters are only hinted at, obviously in order for the various indicators to be effectively measurable, these parameters must be identified in detail. Please refer to specific checklists for detailed measurements.

Indicators related to motor needs

  • Parking spaces for the disabled adequately marked near the entrances
  • Easy path to access the structure (minimum width of 90 cm and space for reversing)
  • Doors and entrance passages accessible independently with wheelchairs (clear span of at least 80 cm)
  • Internal doors and passages accessible independently with wheelchairs (clear span of at least 75 cm and height differences not exceeding 2,5 cm)
  • Non-slip floors
  • Presence of bathrooms for the disabled (dimensional parameters of access, maneuvering spaces, disposition of sanitary appliances in accordance with the law)
  • Presence of lifts for the disabled (dimensional access parameters, maneuvering spaces, command layout in accordance with the law)

 Indicators related to sensory needs (sight)

  • Presence of signs and tactile maps
  • Presence of adequate brightness
  • Presence of information in braille
  • Presence of audio guides
  • Presence of Typewriter (TTY) telephone

 Indicators related to sensory needs (hearing)

  • Video guides with writing or LIS
  • Presence of adequate visual signs
  • Presence of experienced LIS personnel

3) The Sicily Heritage Project and Accessible Tourism 

The database of Sicilian Cultural Heritage, also thanks to the reports of the community, will be enriched with information on the degree of accessibility of individual assets, as will the database of the commercial tourism chain containing accommodation and catering facilities. You can provide your contributions through the page "Accessible Tourism”Or through a comment at the bottom of this article.

In providing information, it may be useful to give indications on:

  • orari di apertura
  • tourist information on the place or distribution of information supports
  • reserved or nearby parking spaces
  • external accessibility (possibility to see the property up close, useful for architectural heritage - for example baroque structures)
  • internal accessibility (ramps, lifts, internal obstacles, etc.)
  • Tactile map if present
  • Toilet facilities for the disabled
  • catering service, possibly also for celiacs
  • other information useful for assessing the degree of overall accessibility
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