Awarded for the very first time this year during the 23rd General Assembly of the UNWTO, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Portugal is the first country to have received this distinction due to its efforts to promote accessible tourism.

The award, presented in partnership with the ONCE Foundation, recognizes Portugal’s efforts to promote tourism accessibility. In Europe, there is a growing market of around 90 million tourists with specific mobility needs. This award is therefore an important milestone for the country and highlights its leadership in a crucial niche in the global market.

Making Portugal an accessible country for all has been a priority undertaken by the government, which launched the All for All Programme in 2016 to empower the tourism sector, helping to create and promote accessible itineraries throughout the country to make it an inclusive destination for all travelers.

So far, The country has completed 116 projects and has spent EUR 20 million, while receiving the aid of EUR 14 million. Among the projects is an “Accessible Beach” programme, and a “Festivals + Accessible” programme which aims to distinguish events that present accessibility conditions for people with specific needs, including pregnant women, seniors, wheelchair users and visually impaired individuals.

In addition, A web search portal and app, Tur4All, was also launched, which provides information on restaurants, hotels, and suggested cultural activities for people with specific mobility needs in Portugal and Spain. If you are in Portugal, you will find that the accessibility project has opened up places such as the Palacio Nacional de Mafra (Mafra), Castelo de Sao Jorge (Lisboa), Caves Calem (Vila Nova de Gaia) and the Convento de Cristo (Tomar).

Ana Mendes Godinho, the secretary of state for tourism in Portugal said: “Accessible tourism is a matter of citizenship and also an important segment in world tourism. While much remains to be done, we hope to continue being a world leader in this category.”

Written by Ismat Ara Khan.

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