All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak

All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak
All abilities trek to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - Australia's highest peak - © Jennifer Johnson 2008

Monday, July 15, 2019

Adriatic to become first seaside destination in Italy to become accessible for all

Interview with the President of Bibione Live, Giuliana Basso, on accessible tourism

The idea is from the Tourist Promotion Consortium Bibione Live, the trademark is from Village for All , the aim is to make the Venetian town on the Adriatic the first Italian seaside destination all to the extent of disability. This is a work in progress project commissioned by the entrepreneurs from Bibione who have adopted the algorithm developed by Roberto Vitali, the creator of the V4A guide for accessible hospitality. It starts with a new awareness: the disabled who are tourism are tourists! It is an increasingly expanding market that today numbers 127 million people in Europe with permanent physical or mental disabilities, or subject to food intolerances, allergies, diabetes problems or dialysis. But also pregnant mothers or strollers to be managed, elderly people with walking difficulties or people who face a temporary disability due to an injury or illness. Currently the tourist market is represented by 16.7% of guests with accessibility needs (42% from over 65, 28% with motor disabilities, 26% with specific food needs). From a purely entrepreneurial point of view, 
Every year, around 6 million visitors choose Bibione which, not surprisingly, aims to become a 360-degree hospitality destination: from accommodation to transport, itineraries and training for entrepreneurs. This is a unique project in Europe because there is no other resort where all companies have chosen to be certified to participate in a social inclusion project. We interviewed the President of the Tourist Promotion Consortium Bibione Live, Giuliana Basso, who enthusiastically follows the gradual transformation of her territory to arrive at a 10% attendance increase in five years. 
- How is your plan articulated and when do you plan to go up to speed? This is a three-year project that involves several analysis steps, starting from the state of the location, in order to map the offer of services, infrastructure and recreational opportunities. All this accompanied by an important training project that sees the involvement of all the players involved, from the hotel sector to the non-hotel sector and open-air holidays. Last year, in view of the 2018 season, a sort of photograph was taken of what Bibione presented, with its strengths and weaknesses, registering a good overall level of reception. This year, however, the training of the operators started, including the employees of our communication agency. Let us not forget that we must know how to speak adequately and consciously to meet the needs of a clientele that is undoubtedly more delicate than the traditional one, conveying our added value compared to that of other tourist locations. With the launch of the 2020 season, next year we should be up to speed with the entire project.
- Can you tell us about the strengths that will make Bibione accessible to everyone? We are talking about a beach of 9 kilometers, very wide and already largely prepared. Bibione has a long walk on the dune to the sea, which can also be traveled by bicycle and wheelchair. There are also inclusive play areas, where children can play together and with equal opportunities. And then we have special equipment for bathing in water for people with disabilities and job chairs from the sea. There is already a comprehensive check-up of cycle paths and walking routes, as well as analysis of accessible routes to get to the resort by public transport, starting from the airports and stations. 
- What kind of relationship exists with Village for All? Village for All accompanies us on this journey with its brand, which passes through the visits to the individual structures and the indications of what must be corrected. There is an accessibility score from 1 to 5 for six categories of needs towards which indicators have been developed: feeding, use of the manual or electric wheelchair, needs of families with children up to 3 years, over 65, problems related to disabilities of hearing and sight. Then there are other indicators such as the AIC brand (Associazione Italiana Celiachia) or the Your Disability Manager service , promoted together with Bed and Care, which allows you to rent aids for your holiday, from the wheelchair to other aids or to find a caregiver. Among other services, Special Dogs must be added for those who own animals and want to take them with them. In fact, from next year Bibione will already be able to use the Village for All brand in all media, starting with online ones. 
- What does Bibione offer that other tourist realities do not have? It offers maximum usability on the whole territory and not only in this or that structure. I can say that a global process is in place for the acquisition of a new sensibility. From here we start, even if the training we are doing is a starting point and not a point of arrival. The road map, designed by Village for All, starts from a total mapping of the tourist system of the seaside resort, not only therefore of accommodation facilities, but also of restaurants, tourist itineraries (cycle, pedestrian, food and wine, boat trips), sports facilities, local resources (museums, casoni, theme parks, playgrounds) and of course the transport system.
- Who decided that the Bibione tourist proposal had to go in the direction of accessibility for everyone? Ours is a very special case. It was not a decision of the Municipality, it did not rain down from above, but it was a private choice. All the entrepreneurs have in fact met in the Tourism Promotion Consortium, which I chair. The singularity consists in the fact that the idea of ​​taking a three-year course, to reach the maximum degree of accessibility, concerns the whole town. For this reason, those sitting at the Consortium table represent Bibione in its entirety. And it is a great fortune because this way you can proceed with choices with cohesion and speed. We also have a good relationship with the municipal administration that follows us in our projects, allowing us all to move in the same direction.  
- How is the reality of Bibione articulated on an entrepreneurial level?   Our company consists of around forty rental agencies, 95 hotels and numerous businesses. The latter are also part of the Tourist Promotion Consortium and have already committed themselves to making their spaces accessible to wheelchairs for disabled people. The hotel structures that have joined the project are already around thirty. Now the adjustment work has stopped for obvious reasons of seasonality, but there is extreme compactness in wanting to perform all the necessary interventions to be able to boast of the brand of Village for All.  
- In perspective, the make up of the coast what do you expect?  Certainly there are some small structural interventions, which in part will be carried out by the Municipality and partly by the two companies that deal with the 9 kilometers of the beach. In Bibione there are no small bathrooms like in Rimini and Riccione, where there is a different owner for each stretch of beach. Here the planning has a twenty-year character. And then there are the interventions that refer to the entrepreneurs of the single receptive structures, starting from the accessibility for the wheelchairs to get to the adaptation of the kitchen for those who have food difficulties. All aspects that refer to the inclusion of a problematic subject together with their family and friends because a disabled person is almost always part of a group of vacationers, consisting of two to four people,
- Why should a person with physical disability, and not only, choose Bibione? Because it will be able to face the holiday in a more serene way than elsewhere, thanks to an adequate response to its requests and able to guarantee a quality of stay not inferior to that of people without disabilities. Bibione is one of the most popular Italian seaside resorts. Over time it has earned the record of competitive international destination, welcoming the traditional segments ranging from families with children to seniors over 65. Now Bibione wants to go further to build a single product, capable of collecting and relating all the elements of the Offer of the Bibione Accessible Hospitality Destination.
- What are your references for those who would like to contact you? Bibione.com is our official website, a showcase on which you can directly book because it contains all the information not only on our initiatives, but also on the events promoted during the summer season. A structure that I have not mentioned, but very important in the light of the speech we are making, is that of the seafront thermal baths, which are our pride and offer not only care, but also wellness holidays. We have a Spa, numerous swimming pools and an important physiotherapy department. Bibione also has a first-level first-aid center, also equipped with a dialysis service. The municipal administration is also supporting us in the pioneering project "Bibione without smoke". 
- Do you believe that the market for disabled people is an important reservoir for the economy of your territory?Surely there is a potential clientele to which we have never been communicated the values ​​of hospitality. These are visitors almost always neglected by the tourist system. And yet, due to their characteristics, they are in many ways ideal tourists: they struggle to find a destination that meets their needs, they prefer low season periods and long holidays, they have a medium-high spending capacity. For this reason, accessible welcome manuals, specific packages and dedicated communication tools will be prepared, including tactile maps on the beach and along the promenade. Therefore, Bibione is focusing on a segment in strong growth, moving from the fact that it already boasts a receptive capacity of this clientele superior to the Italian average and can count on a number of rooms more than double accessible compared to the other seaside resorts of the Country. From here we aim towards new goals. 

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